ROC president addressed IOC colleagues in Lausanne on topical issues of fight against doping and reforms of anti-doping system

Dear colleagues!

These days we are constantly facing allegations that Russian government agencies support the use of doping by athletes and even established a sort of a system for this purpose.

This is why I would like to begin with a more detailed overview of this issue.

The fight against doping, based on a “zero-tolerance” approach, has constantly been and will always be one of the key areas of the policy of our State. We have repeatedly declared it. This is our fundamental point. There is no State supported doping program in sport in Russia and it has never existed.

And we are not just declaring here our transparency and our intention to work together with international organizations. Russia meets all the requirements of the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport and we are taking some quite specific steps.

Since 2009, the Russian Federation has been one of the main sponsors of UNESCO’s Fund for the Elimination of Doping in Sport, chaired by our representative. This Fund is engaged in financing various anti-doping programs all over the world. The total amount of Russian Federation investments in this Fund is two million five hundred and fifty thousand euro.

The Russian Federation is represented on all Council of Europe working bodies that are responsible for shaping the anti-doping policy. A jointly developed plan on further improvement of the State anti-doping policy initiated by the Council of Europe has been pursued since May 2016.  

At the Federal law level, we are toughening punishment for doping usage, distribution and inducement. Just a few days ago our legislation was amended to allow criminal liability for coaches, doctors and specialists for doping inducement.

At the same time we admit and we understand that we, in Russia, have got issues with doping. For example, there are a great many cases of prohibited substances usage by our track and field and weightlifting athletes. The numerous allegations mentioned in McLaren Report require unbiased investigation.

Despite a challenging situation, the ROC has always done its best to ensure a meaningful cooperation and collaboration with all international sports bodies. The athletes implicated in doping scandals were disqualified and the coaches were dismissed.

You all know that before the Rio 2016 Games we had anything but a simple training period, accompanied by – from our point of view – an absolutely unreasonable ban of a wide range of athletes from the Games, and attempts initiated by WADA and anti-doping agencies of certain countries, to put a blanket ban on all the Russian team, thereby disregarding the legitimate rights of clean and honest athletes.

The situation with track and field had reached absurd lengths. The Coordination Committee, established by the Russian Olympic Committee, had carried out all the required activities in respect of virtually all the criteria. But after that, new and theoretically impracticable requirements were put forward. The requirements violated the most widely recognized human and civil rights, such as the requirement to live and train outside the athletes’ home country during the previous two years. 

As a result, almost everyone from the Russian track and field team missed the Rio Games and now this criterion has just been overturned.

To put it mildly, it is not good.

Especially since, earlier this year, the required lists of athletes had been submitted and all of them had been repeatedly checked under the control of the UK anti-doping agency; the test samples were taken by foreign doping officers and forwarded to foreign laboratories under the full control of WADA.

Virtually all the tests were negative, but still all these measures were not enough to guarantee the clean athletes’ participation in the international competitions. It turns out that WADA does not trust the results of its own activities.

This situation, especially the blanket ban of our Paralympic team, caused uproar in Russian society. The Russian people are obviously unhappy about the unfair decisions taken in respect of Russian sport. The vast majority believe it to be a well-orchestrated campaign. 

Needless to say, the ROC aims to find constructive solutions but the situation is made even more complex because at present there are no Russian Federation representatives on WADA governing structures and bodies.

There is not a single Russian representative on any of WADA’s various commissions. This deprives of the opportunity to provide and receive unbiased and timely information on issues related to the fight against doping, including in a given country.

This is strange, if nothing else, in respect of the country which is among the leading sports nations in the world.

You also know that WADA has revoked its license from the Russian Anti-Doping Agency and, consequently, our Agency is unable to be actively engaged in any activities.

Foreign doping control structures carry out all the functions related to the management, planning of testing, and sample collection in Russia.

However, we believe that the current external doping control management system artificially created for Russia, which replaced national anti-doping structures, cannot function effectively.

For example, foreign doping control structures collected about 1500 samples from Russian athletes in 2016. A draft WADA 2017 plan envisages the collection of about 6000 samples.

This is totally insufficient. In particular, the RUSADA at its peak activity took up to 20 thousand samples. Now, under the current system, only athletes of the national teams are targeted for testing.

Those who, for example, compete in the youth and junior leagues and competitions are outside this doping-control framework. It is a huge problem. In the past, it was RUSADA’s responsibility. And now we do not have any capability to test tens of thousands of athletes. I would like to draw your attention to this issue.

Because when we declare a large-scale fight against doping, this situation is totally unacceptable. And how is WADA planning to solve this when, even right now, they say that the UK Anti-Doping Agency, which is entrusted with all the powers, can hardly manage to analyze 6000 samples, let alone a larger quantity, which is required for us?

Not to say that Russia, in spite of a serious lack of the testing volumes which an external management system of a national anti-doping agency, which was offered to us, is ready to commit to, will have to pay huge amounts to the WADA’s structures for the planning and administration of testing. For your information, we speak about the amount of approximately Euro 10mln to be paid next year. This is the payment for the abovementioned 6000 samples which are obviously not enough.

So, in a situation like this, why not to find a fast track way to give the accreditation back to RUSADA and to renew its activities, especially since it is under the full control of WADA? What is preventing this?

For our part, we would like to appeal to you as WADA’s founders to assist in the prompt reinstatement of the Russian anti-doping agency and the anti-doping laboratory in their rights. Otherwise, and it is obvious, it is simply impossible to fight a large-scale and adequate battle with doping.

The removal of their accreditation has already resulted in the ban of the Russian Paralympic team from competing at the Paralympic Games in Rio. The team still cannot participate in any international competitions and is at risk of missing the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Games in PyeongChang.

As you are aware, the reason for disqualification was the allegation of the Russian Paralympic Committee’s inability to guarantee the observance of the anti-doping rules. In other words, firstly, WADA suspended all anti-doping activities in Russia and introduced external management.

After that, using the lack of proper doping control tools in this country as a pretext, and following the arguable and unconfirmed information from the McLaren report, the IPC imposed unprecedented sanctions which violate fundamental human rights and run counter to common humanitarian values.

This brings us once again back to what was said recently at the IOC’s Olympic Summit, namely the need for a restructuring of the entire anti-doping system, worldwide.  

WADA is asking for more powers but does not hold responsibility for subordinate structures; its activities are not transparent – a lot of decisions are made behind closed doors and it becomes an instrument for manipulation, including those of a political nature, as well as for the establishment of competitive advantages. 

By the way, some thoughts about ultimate responsibility. RUSADA and the Russian Anti-Doping Laboratory have always been under WADA’s full and permanent control. Over a number of years, the World Anti-Doping Agency had annually given a high appraisal of their work and confirmed that they had met all its requirements.

We initially relied upon this assessment as we did not have any reason to question the adequacy of this information. And then suddenly it turns out that WADA does not have any responsibility for one of its subdivisions. How is that possible? We talked about all this at the Olympic Summit and uphold the decisions taken for the Agency’s reforms.  

In addition I would like to draw your attention to a number of issues.

We believe that one of two actions is necessary. Either to completely transform the system by depriving national anti-doping agencies, international sports federations and organizing committees of the right to plan testing and by transferring this right to WADA. Or to publish the complete sample collection statistics of the international sports federations and organizing committees which shows the correlation between the number of athletes and the number of samples collected as well as sample collection criteria.

WADA should develop a clearer and higher quality system for the control over the operations of the laboratory concerning the compliance with all the established standards.

In addition, in order to ensure transparency in the activities of the accredited laboratories, it is necessary to change the rules for B-samples analysis by making it possible to analyze them in any laboratory at the discretion of the athlete.

The current situation with the issuing of Therapeutic Use Exemptions, permitting the use of prohibited substances for medical reasons, needs improving. 

It is pure nonsense when athletes with serious, at times even chronic, illnesses become Olympic champions and medalists by taking substances which are prohibited for other athletes. It happens with increasing frequency and becomes common practice. Soon, healthy athletes at competitions will become an exception. Should we really accept this?

We believe that right now we should standardize the issuing of permits to use prohibited substances by international federations and NADOs. At present, the processes are not standardized and may be subject to manipulation.

We should consider the establishment of an Expert Council under the IOC which will accept the confirmed or issued therapeutic use exemptions at the international level.

In addition, it should be a requirement to publish the therapeutic use exemptions statistics by the sport and country of each respective athlete on an ongoing basis.

Engaged in this task should be experts in this particular field representing all parties in the process, including Russian specialists.

On the whole, the representation of leading nations and continents in WADA is disproportionate and manifestly biased towards certain nations that define the Agency’s policy. 

As of today, the WADA commissions and sub-commissions include 17 members from the USA; 12 from Canada; 2 from China; and none from Russia. We are positive that this situation must be changed.

Lack of transparency in WADA’s operations affects not only its structure and how it is shaped but also, say, the selections criteria for the inclusion of this or that drug in the prohibited list or its placement for monitoring.

The WADA Prohibited Substances List is very long due to numerous commonly used drugs. Additions to the list grow year by year.

The criteria from the WADA Code allow any substance, from energy supplements to everyday medicines, to be classified as prohibited.

That’s why the current criteria should be revised, the expression “contradicts the spirit of sport” should be clarified and all procedures and criteria should be made more robust in order to eliminate the risk of including substances that have nothing to do with doping in the WADA Prohibited Substances List.

The best example is the story with Meldonium, which WADA included in the Prohibited Substances List but failed to perform all the required research.

The effects of this drug are still being researched but tens of athletes took a beating without being guilty. Firstly they were disqualified and then they were reinstated. Nevertheless, a shadow was cast over their reputation – many of them experienced stress for several months and could not train for competitions; they did not know what the future held for them and why they had been punished. Such a situation is simply unacceptable.

The global status of WADA and transnational sample collection agencies is a separate issue. Some nations, say Russia, are required to open their entire country to doping officers. Others do not allow foreigners to carry out doping control within their boundaries. Double standards of this kind are detrimental to the credibility of the entire system.

While sharing the concerns about the current state of affairs within the global anti-doping system, we are aware that the Russian national system has stalled considerably.

Presently we are trying to restart it and make it a model of a new all-purpose anti-doping framework.

Yes, we are open to collaboration and stand ready to jointly resolve whatever difficulties; we are ready to build a shared anti-doping system.

It is for these purposes, inter alia, that the commission, headed by Vitaly Smirnov, is established.