A special summit of nineteen leading international Anti Doping Organisations, held yesterday in Farmleigh in Dublin, has called for a total ban on Russia competing in all international sport and the removal of all international sporting events taking place in the country.
The summit was the third to be held in the last six months following the publication of the McLaren Report and was hosted by Sport Ireland.
A joint statement was agreed unanimously by representatives from Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA.
It proposed a uniform process for allowing individual Russian athletes to apply to perform under a neutral flag.
“With the best interests of clean athletes at heart, it is our hope that these proposals will help sport move past these dark times and pave a path towards a brighter future – one where the promise of clean competition is fulfilled,” said the statement.
“But in order to do so, steps must be taken, and it is imperative that those responsible for Russia’s state-supported system are held accountable, that calls for a truly independent anti-doping model are finally heeded and those athletes affected by this abhorrent behavior are given back at least some of what was taken from them.”
With new, irrefutable evidence of Russia’s institutionalised doping system uncovered by the McLaren Report, the leadership group has called for the exclusion of Russian sport organisations from all international competition until the sport and anti-doping systems in Russia are brought into full compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code.
However, in line with the approach taken by the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), and with the understanding that there may be some Russian athletes who have been subject to the robust anti-doping practices of other countries, the leadership group has offered to help in applying standardised criteria by which athletes can be assessed in order to compete as neutrals.
The leaders have also called for International Federations and other major event organisers to remove all international competitions currently set to take place in Russia, as well as a moratorium on awarding any new competitions to the country.
There was no reaction last night from FIFA or the Organising Committee of the World Cup due to take place in Russia in 2018. It is considered highly unlikely that the tournament could be moved at such proximity though if the NADO statement is to stand up as a strong affirmation of an anti Russia stance then perhaps that should come into play.
FIFA’s concern yesterday was confirming that the 2026 World Cup would be extended to 48 teams and there are few countries that would be capable or enthusiastic about hosting a tournament of such expanded scale.
NADO leaders also reiterated their advocacy for a more independent global anti-doping model. They re-affirmed the position that all anti-doping organisations, including the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), should be independent and adopt the necessary reforms, including a proposal that no decision-maker within an anti-doping organisation hold a policy-making position within a sport or event organiser.
While there was continued recognition of the value in maintaining close collaboration with sport – especially in regard to anti-doping education, funding and intelligence sharing – the leaders stand firm that investigatory, testing and results management functions be separate from sports organisations. These reforms would help prevent the inherent conflict of interest that exists when a sports organisation is tasked with both promoting and policing itself.
That conflict may pose a local issue for Sport Ireland who serve as the national anti doping agency for Ireland but also as the chief source of funding distribution for National Governing Bodies.
It is ironic given the high regard and esteem in which the irish anti-doping procedures are held internationally but if best practice dictates a totally independent model then change is likely to be needed.
Former Irish international race walker Olive Loughnane was one of those affected athletes, having seen her 2009 World Championship medal upgraded from Silver to Gold in 2016. Today she backed the NADOs work in bringing about change to the anti-doping system: “As an athlete, I was shocked and appalled following the revelations in the McLaren Report that those tasked with the protection of clean athletes and the integrity of sport were in fact aiding and abetting deception of a seismic nature, said Olive Loughnane who was upgraded from Silver to Gold from the 2009 World Championships in Race Walking last year.
“I welcome the important work of the National Anti-Doping Organisations and their calls for reform. Strong action needs to be taken to ensure a message is sent out to all that doping in sport is completely unacceptable.”
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