IOC, Wada blamed for failure to rein in Russia

LONDON • The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) stand accused of "shattering the confidence" of athletes across the globe because of their failure to do enough to tackle Russian doping.

A powerful letter sent directly to the IOC's president, Thomas Bach, and his Wada counterpart, Craig Reedie, also warns both men that their "tried and tested procedures and safeguards have been proved inadequate".

It urged them to do more to "fully discover the truth" about cheating in sport.

The letter comes as the International Association of Athletics Federations, the sport's governing body, meets in Vienna tomorrow to decide whether Russian athletes should be allowed to compete in the Rio Olympic Games in August.

The letter is signed by the hugely respected chairs of the IOC Athletes' Commission and the Wada athletes' committee, Claudia Bokel and Beckie Scott, whose organisations represent the views and protect the rights of thousands of athletes worldwide.

The letter was sent last month following the former head of the Moscow anti-doping lab Grigory Rodchenko's extraordinary claims in The New York Times about the extent of Russia's state-run doping programme at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.

Among Rodchenko's allegations were that he supplied banned performance-enhancing substances to at least 15 medal winners and - incredibly - that the Russian security services substituted tainted urine samples with clean ones during the Games so their athletes passed doping tests.

The letter starts by telling the IOC and Wada that Rodchenko's allegations deal "heavy blows" to the Olympic and anti-doping movements, and reminds them of the inadequacy of their efforts to deal with Russia and protect clean athletes.

"We have received requests from hundreds of clean athletes imploring us to do more to ensure our sports are clean and that follow-up investigations are undertaken into other Russian sports and other nations named in the Independent Commission report," they write.

"No follow-up investigation was undertaken by Wada, the IOC remained silent on the issue, and not until the media yet again got involved have we seen further action."

An investigation into Rodchenko's claims, which is being led by the respected law professor Richard McLaren, is due to report next month.

However, both authors press for safeguards to be put in place "in a manner that is beyond reproach and restores some faith in the work of the anti-doping community".

The letter was apparently approved by over 20 athletes' groups across a number of sports and countries, which represent thousands of athletes.

THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 16, 2016, with the headline 'IOC, Wada blamed for failure to rein in Russia'. Print Edition | Subscribe