Robert Harneis –TDO- (FRANCE)- The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has voted 9 to 3 to lift the ban on Russian athletes to the fury of the highly politicized Anglo-Saxon lobby lead by the United States.
The decision to let Russia return to the fold comes after Russia promised to give Wada full access to its Moscow laboratory test data.
Thursday’s vote effectively declares that Russia can be relied on to test its athletes properly. It is the first step towards lifting a wider ban on the country’s athletes.
Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, former Russian laboratory chief whose sole evidence caused the ban in the first place, called the decision “the greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history”. Referring to Rodchenkov, Russian President Putin has commented that the original ban was "politically motivated," adding that it was "mainly based on the testimony of a person whose moral and ethical attitudes and psychological state raise many questions."
Rusada, the Russian testing laboratory, was deemed non-compliant in November 2015. Richard McLaren, a Canadian law professor, published a highly contentious report claiming that Russian anti-doping officials helped athletes take performance-enhancing drugs over several years and that government and security officials assisted in the cover-up of failed tests.
In February, Russian athletes were unable to compete under the nation’s flag at the Winter Olympics, with those considered “clean” required to perform under a neutral banner.
As recently as March, Sir Craig said Russia were not ready to come in from the cold, because it had not recognized guilt or given inspectors access to the Moscow lab at the center of the scandal.
But last week, Wada’s compliance review committee (CRC) recommended the end of Rusada’s suspension, saying it “sufficiently acknowledged” past testing failures.
Leaked letters between Sir Craig, its director-general, Olivier Niggli, and Russia’s minister of sport, Pavel Kolobkov, subsequently suggested that the two sides had agreed a compromise that would allow for Rusada’s readmission. Sir Craig, the former British Olympic Association chairman, and International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, were widely believed to be driving the push for Russia’s rehabilitation.
However, Sir Craig said the decision “provides a clear timeline by which Wada must be given access to the former Moscow laboratory data and samples” with a “clear commitment” to “reinstate non-compliance” if the terms are not met.
The attack on Russia through the McClaren Doping report is part of a wider US inspired movement to politicize sport. The WADA decision reflects the view of those in sport that feel that US political influence has gone too far.