POSTED: June 20th 2016

Olympics: WADA has Russia under the microscope for Rio 2016

Sir Craig Reedie WADA President © Getty Images
Sir Craig Reedie WADA President © Getty Images

Olivier Niggli WADA Director General © Getty Images
Olivier Niggli WADA Director General © Getty Images

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) staged a media symposium in London today and the Russian ban on the athletics team from competing in the Rio 2016 Games was high on the list of topics. And depending on the outcome of Prof. Richard McLaren's investigation in mid July the ban could be widened to a blanket prohibition on the country.

WADA President, Sir Craig Reedie, reiterated the support for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)'s ban on Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) noting ARAF's continued "deep-seated culture of tolerance for doping" and the organization's inability to create a "strong and effective anti-doping infrastructure capable of detecting and deterring doping".

Reedie commented on the position taken by WADA, "Sport has had to take one long, hard, look in the mirror.

"WADA fully supports the IAAF Council's decision to uphold its Task Force's recommendation to maintain Russian suspension.

 "The Agency applauds the outcome and the process that the IAAF Council followed by appointing an independent Task Force to evaluate ARAF's compliance.

"In the coming weeks, we will learn the outcomes of our Independent McLaren Investigation.

"If his report indicates transgressions of any kind, then there will be a precedent-setting opportunity to demonstrate our collective commitment to cleaning up sport. The world will be watching.  

"It is clear that, in order to curb state-wide doping, wherever it may be in the world, countries must commit to a cultural change; and, that change can only come about by the decision-makers using their powers to full effect and by taking the necessary actions to  ensure that every country is fully dedicated to clean sport."

"WADA, and its partners in the anti-doping community, have heard the strength of the athlete's voice and have taken decisive action in the lead up to the Games.

"Whether that be by initiating the McLaren Investigation; enhancing our encouragement to more athletes and support personnel to come forward with valuable intelligence; or, by enacting more stringent quality assessment procedures to ensure laboratories maintain the highest standards; we have collectively taken action that will help level the playing field for each and every athlete competing in Rio," he explained.

"The independent compliance program, which was introduced under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code (Code), is now being used to full effect.  

"It ensures that every anti-doping organization's rules are fully compatible with the Code; and that, as a result, all athletes are subject to anti-doping rules of the highest order, no matter their sport or country.

"We have seen first-hand evidence of this new, robust compliance process through the work we have done in encouraging countries such as Kenya, Spain and Mexico to become fully Code compliant. Rigorous and compliant anti-doping programs, and serious sanctions, are what clean athletes expect to see as they turn their attention towards the Rio Games; and that, is what we in anti-doping, are focussed on delivering," he added.

WADA Director General, Olivier Niggli, added, "If and when evidence is uncovered that there have been violations of the Code, WADA will ensure that individuals or organizations concerned are dealt with in an appropriate fashion.

Niggli also detailed the global anti-doping efforts in the lead up to Rio 2016 and updated the media regarding the limitations of Russia's testing program during its period of non-compliance.  

"In short, we have incurred multiple delays that have resulted in a lack of testing and effectiveness of testing in Russia.  WADA has followed up numerous times with RUSADA and the Ministry and yet the delays continue".

Niggli wrapped up by looking at the ways and means that WADA could progress over the comings months and years; and, by outlining how the Agency and the anti-doping industry are protecting athletes.  

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-five years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.

Keywords · Olympics · Rio 2016 · WADA

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