Russia must admit doping programme, insists Wada chief

LONDON • Russia has been warned by anti-doping chiefs that it needs to admit that the country operated a state-sponsored doping programme.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), which has re-elected Craig Reedie as president for a further three years, said that Russia will struggle to regain trust until it confronts its wrongdoing.

Vitaly Smirnov, the former Soviet sports minister now heading Russia's state-backed anti-doping commission, had claimed: "Russia has never had a state-sponsored system of doping."

A report by Wada's independent investigator, Richard McLaren, said that Yuri Nagornykh, the deputy sports minister, and Natalia Zhelanova, adviser to the former sports minister Vitaly Mutko, were involved in doping cover-ups.

They have since been removed from their posts. The second part of the report is due on Dec 9.

Smirnov, 81, said of Nagornykh: "He was not (a member of the government), he was deputy minister. Only ministers are members of the government."

Wada's deputy director-general, Rob Koehler, said at a meeting in Glasgow on Sunday: "There needs to be an acceptance of the findings of the McLaren report... because they are factual. Can they move on? We've said from the beginning, cultural change is one of the biggest things that needs to happen. Part of cultural change is the admittance of some of the facts."

Koehler added that testers are being denied access to so-called closed cities in Moscow where athletes are training and to a sealed-off laboratory, preventing access to stored samples.

Wada also said that the Russian cyber-hackers Fancy Bears, who have released details of athletes' therapeutic use exemptions (TUEs) to use banned drugs for medical conditions, were still trying to break into its database.

Of 228 TUEs leaked, Wada said 18 were fabricated. The anti-doping agency added that 143 TUEs were granted before or during the Rio Olympics, with a "handful" of athletes requiring more than one.

Reedie, who was confirmed to continue as Wada president on Sunday, had some powerful figures in the International Olympic Committee calling for his position to be filled by a "neutral" figure.

The Russian broadcaster RT on Sunday played a clip of him and the Wada director-general Olivier Niggli talking without realising that their microphones were still switched on.

Niggli, who assumed his role in July, is heard saying they "are not desperate" for Russia to be declared compliant.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 22, 2016, with the headline 'Russia must admit doping programme, insists Wada chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe