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Expert Explains How WADA Operating 'Against the Spirit of Sport'

© AFP 2022 / Marc BraibantPicture of the logo of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)taken on September 20, 2016 at the headquarter of the organisation in Montreal.
Picture of the logo of World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA)taken on September 20, 2016 at the headquarter of the organisation in Montreal. - Sputnik International
Russian investigators have collected evidence refuting claims made by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s informant Grigory Rodchenkov. Russia's former director of the Anti-Doping Center, Grigory Rodchenkov, has claimed that the urine samples of Russian athletes had been swapped during the 2014 Olympic Games.

Sputnik discussed the possible reaction of WADA to the collected evidence with professor John Nauright, chair of the department of kinesiology, health promotion and recreation at the University of North Texas.

Sputnik: The Russian Investigative Committee has sent documents refuting the statements made by Rodchenkov. What do you think WADA’s response could be?

John Nauright: It’s very difficult to predict because WADA and the IOC have basically not followed the recommendations of the Court of Arbitration for Sport and they’ve backed themselves into a corner. The entire investigation was based firstly on the German documentary and then on the basis of Rodchenkov's testimony. If his testimony is shown to be a lie then that raises many questions that they’re going to have to deal with, and unusually for WADA they'll have to own up to their mistakes.

Sputnik: According to the documents published by the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne Rodchenkov never gave the athletes the "Duchess" cocktail, never saw them consuming the drug, therefore what does this tell us about his testimony?

John Nauright: The entire case was based on his increasing sensationalization of what happened, that the samples were switched at night, that he developed special supplements to give to athletes, etc. If those two facts are indeed not true, yes, he may well have developed the cocktail, but if it was never given to athletes then that raises serious questions about the system-wide nature of doping within Russia and it makes Russia no different from every other country.

Sputnik: What does this tell us about the sanctions imposed on the clean Russian athletes by WADA and the IOC, it’s almost like a witch hunt, isn’t it?

John Nauright: Absolutely, and it runs completely contrary to the entire reason and rationale for doping controls in the first place, which was to ensure a level playing field for athletes. If athletes aren't given a level playing field in the courts or athletes are tied to a system just because of what country they’re from, it raises many, many questions. We're not talking about the case like we had in the former German Democratic Republic where we know that it was systemwide, coaches were rewarded, and this was completely run by the state, there has been no proof, particularly, since April 2017, when the labs, the Rusada anti-doping labs had been moved to Moscow State University, there’s no evidence that there is any kind of system-wide doping taking place at least as far back as that, so what has happened is the IOC has gone back and decided that they think something was terrible and therefore Russia must be punished.

Sputnik: Do you believe there would ever be an objective investigation into what has really happened 2014 and why?

John Nauright: Well I think both WADA and the IOC need to take more positive action, what they’ve done is they’ve penalized athletes that there is no proof of guilt, and they’ve not abided by the decisions of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If WADA and the IOC do not abide by the Court of Arbitration for Sport it makes CAS useless, and therefore athletes don’t have a reliable place where they can go and address their concerns, so it creates a kind of legal and ethical travesty of the system that was created to supposedly enhance ethics in sport.

Sputnik: Let’s just talk about the credibility of Rodchenkov, he’s currently in hiding in the United States, he’s not been allowed to be cross-examined by any court, any sport of arbitration, any intermediate party, what does that say about the individual? What does that say about the case? And I know you’re an American citizen yourself, but he’s hiding in America, so what does that say about the USA as well, it’s not good, is it?

John Nauright: No, it really doesn’t allow for proper course of justice to be followed. The fact that he’s in the United States is kind of beside the point if he’s allowed to be cross — examined properly, but so far that has not happened and increasingly we find that there are holes in his testimony. If he were in a court of law in the United States there’s clear reasonable doubt in our legal system, and therefore the athletes would be cleared easily.

Sputnik: Just give us your final synopsis regarding why they’re moving forward? It’s a broken governing body really, it can’t go on like this, not only are the athletes losing faith and confidence in WADA, the whole global audience has got its indifference to WADA. It has to be totally revamped, doesn't it?

John Nauright: They're going to have to do something if they don’t manage and handle this crisis and come clean and say that this was mismanaged, that the 27 athletes need to have everything reinstated, that there is no stain on their record. They have to take proactive action because right now WADA is violating one of the three pillars that it has for doping violation, which is against the spirit of sport. WADA itself is operating against the spirit of sport.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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