Where to now? That is the question facing Sport Ireland and others following the majority vote of WADA’s Executive Committee yesterday to readmit the Russian Anti-Doping Association to the fold.
The meeting voted nine to two in favour, with one abstention, of accepting a report from the Compliance Review Committee that Russia had moved far enough down the road to redemption to be welcomed back.
The immediate reaction from Sport Ireland was as unequivocal as it’s pre meeting stance.
“Today is an extremely tough day for all of those who believe in protecting the integrity of sport,” said CEO John Treacy.
“This has called the credibility of WADA and all its stands for into question. There are many questions arising out of today’s decision. What evidence has WADA based this decision on? Why has WADA softened its stance on two of the most important criteria in the ‘Roadmap to Compliance’? And, most critically, where does the international fight against doping in sport go from here?”
“Anti-doping leaders must now come together and decide where we go from here. We want, and need, an anti-doping system that is fair and transparent, and free from conflicts of interests. A system that is free from manipulation and subversion.”
“A system where the interest of clean athletes are top priority. We must remember that the most important people in all of this are the clean athletes. They deserve to know they are competing on a fair and level playing field.”
Sport Ireland Director of Partiucipation and Ethics appeared on Off The Ball last night and suggested that conflicts of interest between sporting interests and those of a black and white stance on anti-doping had compromised the decision making process.
All six of the IOC nominated members on the Committee voted to accept the return of Russia while the independent Government nominees were more evenly split with Norwegian Vice President Linda Helleland and New Zealand’s Grant Robertson voting no and one other abstention from among Japan, Poland, the Dominican republic and the African Union.
“Today marked the biggest decision in the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)’s history, and it delivered a devastating blow to the world’s clean athletes,” said Us Anto Dopin Agency CEO Travis Tygart.
“By ripping up the very ‘Roadmap’ it created, WADA’s decision to reinstate Russia despite the nation not having met the two remaining Roadmap conditions is bewildering and inexplicable.”
“In its landmark meeting today, WADA sent one clear message to the world: we put the wishes of a small handful of sports administrators above the rights of millions of clean athletes and the dreams of billions of sports fans.”
Is this just a step along the way and one which will make Russia fully compliant? Or is a much closer examination needed of just what world sport is willing to do in defence of clean competition.
The onus now lies with those that have shouted loudest, the US, the UK and Sport Ireland to detaermine just how far they ought go in pursuit of a clean athlete reality.
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