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Anti-doping groups accuse IOC of putting politics and business ahead of clean sport

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Thirteen national anti-doping organisations from around the world have given a damning verdict on the International Olympic Committees hasty and ill-conceived response to state-sponsored doping in Russia

Thirteen national anti-doping organisations from around the world have given a damning verdict on the International Olympic Committees hasty and ill-conceived response to state-sponsored doping in Russia and accused its leaders of being open to political and commercial influence at the expense of clean sport.

The devastating comments, made on the eve of a Rio Olympics that has been overshadowed by the IOCs controversial response to the findings of the Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who decreed beyond reasonable doubt that Russia had covered up hundreds of positive tests across the majority of Olympic sports, will increase tensions between the anti-doping community and the IOC.

The IOC has demonstrated through these actions that, as an organisation made up of national and international sport leaders, it lacks the independence required to keep commercial and political interests from influencing the tough decisions necessary to protect clean sport, said the leaders of 13 national anti-doping organisations in an opinion piece published by the Guardian. A radical change is needed to ensure that such a failure never occurs again.

The 13 national anti-doping organisations, including those from the US, Canada, Germany, the Netherlands and Japan, had previously written to the IOC calling for an outright ban on athletes competing under the Russian flag, with provision for a Wada/IOC task force to decide whether any individual athletes should be able to compete as neutrals.

Instead, they argue, the IOC issued a confusing patchwork of conflicting and insufficient instructions to international sport federations that are legally infirm and have already resulted in an uneven and incomplete response from IFs.

Most federations have simply banned those Russians who have previously failed drug tests, as directed by the IOC in a move that caused further controversy because athletes from other countries who have served bans will be allowed to compete, or those named in McLarens report.

While a handful of federations have taken a robust stance, including athletics, rowing and weightlifting, many others have waved through virtually all of the Russian athletes who have qualified.

The Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, said on Friday that 272 Russian athletes had been cleared to compete, although those decisions are subject to ratification by the IOC and a court of arbitration for sport panel.

By throwing eligibility decisions to IFs without clear guidance and without requiring a minimum level of evidence to demonstrate that Russian athletes have been subject to an adequate advance testing programme, the IOC has violated the athletes fundamental rights to participate in Games that meet the stringent requirements of the World Anti-Doping Code, the article concludes.

The fundamental fissurebetween the National Anti-Doping Organisations and the IOC is likely to have long-term ramifications. Anti-doping experts argue that the IOCs decision is contrary to the principals established when Wada was created in the late 1990s to provide a universal approach to fighting doping.

The 13 anti-doping organisations are also furious about the decision to ban the whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova, who the IAAF had cleared to run as an example to others. Inconsistent with legal precedent, this short-sighted decision to exclude Ms Stepanova will deter future whistleblowers and significantly undermine the global anti-doping movement, the article read.

In the meantime, it has been announced that a three-strong IOC panel will have the final say on the eligibility of Russian competitors. It said in a statement that it had decided to delegate the final decision on the acceptance of entries of Russian athletes to a review panel composed of three IOC executive board members: Ugur Erdener, Claudia Bokel and Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. The review panel is due to make a final decision in the coming days.

Samaranch Jr is the son of the IOCs long-serving former president from Spain, who died in 2010. The World Archery president, Erdener, from Turkey, is the chairman of the IOC medical commission and a member of the Wada foundation board, while Bokel is the German chair of the IOC Athletes Commission.

The panel will receive independent advice from Cas before making its decisions. Athletes who have already been ruled out by their IF and not granted Cas approval will not be put forward to the panel. Cas has set up a base in Rio de Janeiro, with the Russian swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev becoming the first athletes to bring cases there.

Originally found athttp://www.theguardian.com/us