Robust changes required to rebuild WADA trust: UKAD Chair calls for progressive reform

UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) welcomes what appears to be a positive step forward in the long running effort to reassure the sporting community of Russia’s commitment to clean sport.

Trevor Pearce, UKAD Chair, said “We understand that the concerns of clean athletes will not be addressed entirely by this news, however, the steps taken to break the deadlock of recent years should be recognised. Also to be recognised are the efforts of WADA’s inspection team to the Moscow laboratory - successfully conducting their work in challenging circumstances.

“UKAD now keenly awaits the outcome of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Executive Committee (ExCo) meeting on 22 January 2019.

“UKAD was disappointed that the 31 December 2018 deadline, for full access to the Moscow laboratory and LIMS data by WADA’s inspection team, was not met. The passing of the deadline, and the poor communication surrounding it, only served to further alienate athletes and WADA’s key stakeholders, and promote distrust in the anti-doping system. The role of the Russian authorities in the failure to achieve this deadline must be explained by WADA.

“Now that access to the Moscow laboratory has been given, and the collection of relevant data has been completed, the integrity of the data must now be verified. WADA has suggested that this will, “take some time”, however the anti-doping community, and clean athletes everywhere, will expect a timely update.  

“If the data is verified, this will be a significant step forward for the rebuilding of confidence in clean sport. The data will enable an investigative process to take place. These investigations could then identify those who have broken the rules and lead to subsequent prosecutions, bans, and the removal of medals and records from cheating athletes. Credence must not be given to those who are attempting to draw a line under this crisis prematurely. 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.

“Let us also be very clear that the investigations must similarly focus on those who surround the athletes: administrators, coaches, medical staff, and any support staff who are complicit in any rule breaking. The welfare of the athletes impacted by this crisis and those who continue to be impacted should also be at the forefront of WADA’s ongoing work with Russia. When a National Anti-Doping Organisation is declared non-compliant, athletes are more vulnerable to doping in sport. In this void, fair competition also goes unchecked, which is particularly concerning for sports that lack resources to operate an effective education and testing programme.

“WADA now finds itself at another critical juncture for the future of the global anti-doping system. The WADA ExCo must consider the recommendation of the independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) and remember that for a regulator to be effective it must be clear, transparent, and rigorous in the applications of its rules and processes.

“It is not for UKAD to second guess the outcome of the 22 January decision. However, we now look to WADA to ensure that appropriate rigour and objectivity is applied to its decision making.

“We do know however, that the matter will not end here. We offer the below imperatives for WADA to consider, with a mind to rebuilding its reputation and regaining trust, and breaking the cycle of institutionalised doping in sport.

Clear rationale for decision making on RUSADA compliance

The WADA ExCo must set out a clear rationale for its 22 January 2019 decision and identify the voting decisions of its members.

Clear expectations for a compliant RUSADA

If the WADA ExCo maintains RUSADA’s status as compliant, it must clearly set out the process and schedule of decision making for the 30 June 2019 deadline. We would expect regular oversight by the CRC before the deadline, to ensure RUSADA is meeting the conditions set out as part of its reinstatement. Prompt action should then follow if it does not. Missing a deadline, like that experienced regarding the 31 December 2018 deadline, should not be tolerated. There should be clear communication of the process for the CRC’s deliberations and the meeting of WADA’s ExCo following the 30 June 2019 deadline.

All samples required are accessed without hinderance and investigated fully

All Adverse Analytical Findings (AAF) and Code breaches must be fully investigated and referred to the respective International Federation (IF) for necessary action.

The scale of the task at hand at should not be underestimated and WADA should confirm it has, within its structures, the necessary capability and capacity to carry out the work in relation to the second condition. If it does not, it must outline what plan it has to manage the additional work, re-analysis and all that flows from this thereafter.

Enhanced checks for a compliant RUSADA

RUSADA should be subject to regular and enhanced Code compliance checks by WADA during the process and thereafter. It is for RUSADA to earn recognition as to its compliance with the Code and internationally expected standards of behaviour for sports, athletes, athlete support personnel, and administrators.

Independent checks on anti-doping procedures for all international events in Russia

In respect of all international events that International Federations have awarded to Russia, WADA should ensure that independent assurance of the anti-doping provisions are put in place by the organising committee.

No international events awarded to a non-compliant RUSADA

In line with the International Standard Code Compliance by Signatories (ISCCS) April 2018, if the WADA ExCo at any time deems RUSADA non-compliant then, all International Federations who have approved major events in Russia should withdraw them.

Clear steps and deadlines for returning a non-compliant RUSADA to compliance

If the WADA ExCo deems RUSADA non-compliant, then the necessary criteria to return the Russian anti-doping organisation to compliance should be re-stated and then strictly adhered to.

An independent review into WADA’s handling of the Russia crisis

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. WADA should recognise that significant changes may be required to ensure that similar criticisms cannot be levied at it and that athletes can trust in it.

Independent review of WADA’s Moscow laboratory inspection

Considering the delayed access to the Moscow laboratory, WADA should commission an independent operational review into the planning and execution of the inspection to gather ‘lessons learnt’.

Challenge WADA presidency candidates on their plans for future non-compliance issues

As part of the selection process, all prospective candidates for the forthcoming WADA Presidency should be required to explain what their approach would be to ensure there is an effective governance process in place to manage non-compliance cases in the future. Candidates should also set out their steps for developing an independent WADA governance regime.

“UKAD would like to recognise the ongoing and dedicated commitment of WADA staff who have driven real change in the protection of clean sport, with notable success in a harmonised set of anti-doping regulations and driving international standards for athlete education.

“The future for clean sport must come from a truly independent WADA. One that can stand up to the powerful interests of sporting organisations and Governments. We welcome recent changes to the Governance structure at WADA, and support a continued movement towards greater transparency and the removal of conflicts of interest.”