Like many in the sport of athletics, I am concerned about last week’s decision of the Executive Committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.
This decision, following a compromise on the conditions of the Roadmap for reinstatement originally set out by WADA, was presumably meant to move the situation forward but appears instead to be a backward step. It creates unclarity about the enforcement of the regulations and policies accepted by the sport movement around the world at a time when adherence to principle, transparency and strong leadership are very much needed.
Having spoken with the Chairman of the European Athletics Athletes Committee, I know that the members share my disquiet and fully support the position expressed in the 19 September letter from the IAAF Athletes' Commission to the WADA Executive Committee, which asked that WADA follow its rules, just as all athletes are expected to do.
Within our sport, we are conscious of the situation of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), which is currently suspended from international competition after the same findings of widespread, state-sponsored doping in the country that triggered RUSADA’s non-compliance.
Led by President Coe, the IAAF set three pre-conditions for reinstatement of RusAF. WADA’s decision on RUSADA is the first of these but the other two – acknowledgement of the findings of the McLaren and Schmid Commission reports and access to data on samples tested at the Moscow lab from 2011 to 2015 – are unfulfilled and therefore the suspension of RusAF remains in place.
My European Athletics Council colleagues and I are proud of the strong position taken by athletics on this matter and other doping-related challenges in countries around the world. We have confidence in the work of both the Athletics Integrity Unit and the Independent Task Force, chaired by Rune Andersen, and expect the IAAF Council will not change the status of RusAF until the Task Force indicates that appropriate progress has been made.
In the meantime, we will do what we can in this fight, including informing athletes about the risks of doping and preparing them to make good, values-based decisions through our I Run Clean™ online anti-doping education programme.
We are acutely aware of the rightful demand from athletes that sport leaders be the guardians of clean sport and ensure fair play in competition. To deliver on this responsibility, we need for the sport movement to remain unified in its absolute opposition to all forms of cheating, including doping, and that agreed regulations and standards be enforced across the board.