World Anti-Doping Agency reinstates Russia after 3-year ban

WADA lifted its ban on Russia Thursday as the global anti-drug body dismissed intense criticism from sporting bodies
WADA lifted its ban on Russia Thursday as the global anti-drug body dismissed intense criticism from sporting bodies

A committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency voted by a “great majority” Thursday to reinstate Russia after a nearly three-year suspension despite pushback from international anti-doping officials.

The Russia Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was suspended in November 2015 in the middle of the Russia doping scandal, which saw widespread, state-sponsored doping that staff covered up for its athletes.

Russians found not involved in the doping were allowed to participate in the 2018 PyeonChang Olympic Games, but did so as “Olympic Athlete from Russia.” Track athletes were banned from the 2016 summer Olympics as well.

WADA recommends Russia reinstatement

WADA released a statement last week that announced its recommendation for reinstatement, citing a letter from the Russia Ministry of Sport. Russia was declared non-compliant and suspended in November 2015 after an investigation found evidence of widespread, state-sponsored doping.

Per the statement:

“[WADA] was satisfied that this letter sufficiently acknowledged the issues identified in Russia, therefore fulfilling the first of the two outstanding criteria of RUSADA’s Roadmap to Compliance. For the second outstanding criterion, the CRC accepted that the new commitment to provide access to the data and samples in the Moscow laboratory to WADA via an independent expert would be sufficient to justify reinstatement, provided that the ExCo imposes a clear timeline for such access.”

WADA announced on its Twitter account Thursday the vote passed by a “great majority” and involved “strict conditions.”

US, international agencies push back on recommendation

Fellow anti-doping bodies voiced opinions against the decision last week. The WADA Compliance Review panel recommended Sept. 13, the day before WADA’s statement of consideration, that Russia remain suspended.

Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, sent a simple statement to NPR last week after the announcement of consideration.

“Frankly it stinks to high heaven,” he said.

Athletes of the U.K. Anti-Doping Agency wrote a letter against it, according to NPR: “To ignore these conditions, ignores the wishes of the athletes you are there to protect. Athletes will no longer have faith in the system.”

And Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, a former Moscow lab director who revealed Russia’s doping, wrote a piece published by USA Today urging against reinstatement.

RUSADA announced an open lecture the same day WADA put out its statement about reconsidering the ban. The lecture, titled “Peak Performance without Doping: Fact of Fiction” features professor and Director of International Federation of Sports Medicine, Yannis Pitsiladis, and covers the following topics:

  • Is it possible to achieve peak performance in sports without the use of prohibited substances and methods?

  • What is the role of science in it?

  • How do we protect young athletes from doping to help them improve results?

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