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UK ANTI-DOPING chairman Trevor Pearce has demanded an independent review of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) handling of the Russian doping crisis.
Pearce’s request comes in a list of 10 “imperatives” for Wada to consider if it is to restore trust in its ability to protect clean athletes, and comes four days before its executive committee meets to decide if the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) should be suspended again.
Its near three-year suspension was lifted in September but that controversial decision was thrown into doubt when a team of experts from Wada were prevented last month from retrieving testing data from the Moscow laboratory at the heart of the scandal.
Wada had set a deadline of December 31 to comply with this condition of the reinstatement deal but the Russians were given a second chance this month and on Thursday Wada president Sir Craig Reedie said the task had now been accomplished.
In a long statement, Pearce welcomed “what appears to be a positive step forward” in the saga and praised the three-person team which visited the laboratory for “successfully conducting their work in challenging circumstances.”
But the former boss of UK’s National Crime Squad and Serious Organised Crime Agency (UKAD) made it clear that it remains “disappointed” by the missed deadline and the “poor communication surrounding it.” Pearce said the role of the Russians in this failure must be explained by Wada.
Furthermore, he pointed out that the data obtained from the laboratory must now be verified as quickly as possible and then used to start anti-doping cases against cheats.
“Credence must not be given to those who are attempting to draw a line under this crisis prematurely,” said Pearce.
“Holding those to account who break the rules is the justice clean athletes deserve and is the first step to rebuilding public trust in clean sport and the anti-doping system.”
But it is his comments on what Wada must do beyond the steps already agreed in relation to Rusada’s reinstatement that are most significant, as UKAD has been working with Rusada, on Wada’s behalf, for three years.
Despite saying UKAD does not want “to second guess the outcome” of the Wada executive committee meeting on January 22, Pearce told the Montreal-based agency that this is a “critical juncture for the future of the global anti-doping system” and the “appropriate rigour and objectivity” must be applied to its decision-making.
The UKAD boss then offers 10 “imperatives for Wada to consider, with a mind to rebuilding its reputation and regaining trust.”
With most anti-doping experts now expecting the executive committee to clear Rusada on Tuesday, Pearce wants them to set out “clear rationale” for their decision and reveal how each of the 12 members vote.
He also wants Wada to announce a clear schedule for what Russia must do next in terms of meeting the September reinstatement deal, most notably the release of blood and urine samples still stored at the laboratory. This should happen “without hindrance” and Wada should confirm it has the capability to carry out this work.
Pearce also wants Rusada to face “enhanced” compliance checks in the future and for the anti-doping procedures at any event held in Russia to be independently overseen.
If Rusada is declared non-compliant, UKAD wants a clear commitment from Wada that Russia should not be allowed to stage international sports events and any events that have been granted to Russia should be withdrawn. A return to compliance must then be properly set out with strict criteria.
Wada would probably say all of the above goes without saying but it might find Pearce’s final imperatives less palatable.
“In light of the considerable concerns that have been raised in respect of Wada’s handling of this issue, Wada should instigate an independent effectiveness review of the management, governance and communication arrangements regarding this matter,” he said.
Pearce also suggests an independent “operational” review of the visit to the Moscow laboratory and, with Reedie standing down as president in November, calls for all his potential successors to be asked how they would manage a crisis as large as the one caused by Russia.
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