Wada upset with IOC's Stepanova, Russia call

MONTREAL • The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) added its voice to those criticising the International Olympic Committee (IOC)'s failure to ban Russia from the Rio Olympics in the wake of doping revelations.

The Montreal-based agency issued a statement on Sunday saying it would work to "ensure the best possible outcome for clean athletes" in Rio, but regretted the IOC ignored its call for a ban of Russia after the Wada-commissioned McLaren Report found evidence of state-backed doping in a range of sports.

Wada had urged the IOC to ban all athletes submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee for both the Games and the Paralympics, with individual exceptions cleared by the IOC for participation under a neutral flag.

Wada also recommended that Russian government officials be denied access to the Rio Games.

"Wada is disappointed that the IOC did not heed Wada's executive committee recommendations that were based on the outcomes of the McLaren investigation and would have ensured a straightforward, strong and harmonised approach," Wada president Craig Reedie said.

Wada added that the decision to give individual sports federations primary responsibility for determining every Russian athlete's eligibility for Rio was a recipe for confusion.

The IOC on Sunday approved a list of criteria, which largely calls on athletes to prove they compete without the aid of performance-enhancing drugs and for international federations to determine the validity of their claims and make a final judgment.

The executive board agreed that no Russian athlete previously sanctioned for a doping violation would be allowed to compete in Rio, meaning that whistle-blower Yulia Stepanova, a Russian middle-distance runner who helped expose the extent of doping, will not be allowed to participate in Rio.

In a statement, the IOC said it "would like to express its appreciation for Ms Stepanova's contribution to the fight against doping and to the integrity of sport," and extended an invitation for Stepanova to attend the Rio Games as a spectator.

Olivier Niggli, Wada's director general, expressed disappointment that Stepanova could not go to Rio, even as a neutral.

"Wada has been very vocal in supporting Yulia's desire to compete as an independent athlete," Niggli said. "Wada is very concerned by the message that this sends whistle-blowers for the future."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 26, 2016, with the headline 'Wada upset with IOC's Stepanova, Russia call'. Print Edition | Subscribe