Russia reinstated by WADA, ending nearly 3-year suspension after doping scandal

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Americans David Wise and Elana Meyers Taylor spoke about the importance of restoring public faith in Olympic athletes.
USA TODAY Sports

Russia has been reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency, a controversial decision given the magnitude of the country’s doping offenses.

WADA’s executive committee voted to reinstate Russia’s Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) at a meeting Thursday in the Seychelles. The decision was expected after WADA’s compliance review committee made its recommendation for reinstatement last week.

WADA president Craig Reedie announced on Twitter the “great majority” of the executive committee decided to reinstate RUSADA as compliant. 

“This decision provides a clear timeline by which WADA must be given access to the former Moscow laboratory data and samples with a clear commitment by the (executive committee) that should this timeline not be met, it would support the (compliance review committee’s) recommendation to reinstate non-compliance,” Reedie said in a tweet. 

Russia was suspended in November 2015 when a WADA report found a state-sponsored doping scheme in athletics. The report detailed how track and field athletes were doped and coaches and officials covered up the cheating by manipulating doping reports and testing procedures.

In July 2016, a report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren found a system of sample tampering during the 2014 Sochi Olympics that included passing urine samples through a hole in the wall. The report said there was evidence that 28 Russian athletes who competed in Sochi had samples that had been tampered with. 

More than 1,000 athletes were caught up in the state-sponsored doping system, according to McLaren.

In recent days dozens of athletes, anti-doping leaders and sports officials from around the world have spoken out against WADA lifting the suspension of RUSADA. They’ve pointed to two key conditions that were set as part of a roadmap for Russia to regain compliance, demanding that Russian officials publicly accept McLaren’s report and release electronic data and samples from the Moscow laboratory.

More: There’s much more at stake for Olympics if Russians are reinstated

More: Opinion: Decision to reinstate Russia would be catastrophic

“By acting on promises, and not proven compliance, WADA’s decision on reinstating RUSADA would weaken the increasingly delicate integrity of international Sport,” a group of more than 30 U.S. athletes wrote in a letter to Reedie. “Ignoring the established conditions also ignores the athlete’s voice that has been begging for a fair and even playing field.”

Grigory Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director turned whistleblower who exposed Russia’s doping system, also has protested RUSADA’s reinstatement.

“It has become crystal clear that to succeed in the fight against doping, we must target cheating countries and international sports federations by challenging their denial and their reckless behavior,” Rodchenkov wrote in an opinion piece for USA TODAY Sports that was published Tuesday.

Rodchenkov added that any decision by WADA to reinstate RUSADA “would be a catastrophe for Olympic sport ideals, the fight against doping and the protection of clean athletes.”

Contributing: Rachel Axon

 

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