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WADA facing a difficult choice: liberty and justice are not for all

This June The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) which is a part of the Executive Office of President Donald Trump, called on Congress to cut or cut WADA funding "if WADA fails to meet basic standards for effectiveness, independence, transparency, and responsiveness to the athlete voice, and fails to promote U.S. representation commensurate with the United States’ financial contributions to WADA.”.

The 19-page report was signed by James W. Carroll, the ONDCP’s director, states that the United States contributes $2.7 million annually to WADA which is more than any other nation. The International Olympic Committee matches government funding, so the United States’ contribution helps generate more than $5.4 million annually, about 14.5 percent of WADA’s 2020 budget.

“American taxpayers should receive a tangible return on their investment in WADA in the form of clean sport, fair play, effective administration of the world anti-doping system and a proportionate voice in WADA decision-making,” - states the report, a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

But the main complaint of ONDCP against WADA was its failure in the investigation of the Russian doping scandal: according to American officials, WADA functionaries "WADA has made insufficient progress, despite having been given considerable time in which to shift course".

Almost a year ago, on December 9, 2019 the WADA executive committee unanimously voted to deprive RUSADA of its compliance status with the Code and impose sanctions on Russian sports. If this arbitrament will be approved by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, the hearings of which are supposed to take place on November 2-5, Russia risks to lose the right to hold major sports competitions for four years, and Russian athletes may lose the opportunity to compete in the World Championships, Olympic and Paralympic Games under the national flag.

The specific interest of ONDCP to Russian Federations looks strange: it is not the only country accused of doping and hiding the test results. For example, the Daily Mail recently reported that the US National Olympic Committee hid 4-5 positive doping tests during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics. In 2019 WADA suspected a British long-distance runner and the most successful British track athlete in modern Olympic Games history, four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah of using stimulants. Formerly famous specialist Alberto Salazar, who have trained Farah for seven years, was convicted of an anti-doping rule violation.

The charges gainst Salazar were brought back in 2017, but he demanded more evidence. By the fall of 2019, the necessary facts were obtained, and on October 1, 2019 the American Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) announced a four-year disqualification of the specialist and his colleague Jeffie Brown, who were at the World Championships in Doha at that time. Both of the suspended trainers have filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). WADA demanded that Mo Farah's samples be submitted for verification, but Nicole Sapstead, the head of the British Anti-Doping Agency, refused to dulfill WADA's application stating that she has the right to dispose of samples from the vault as she sees fit.

Sporting events must be conducted honestly and in a good faith, and those who violate the rules must be punished, there is no doubt about that. But in this case it seems that WADA and a number of other sports organizations have completely different attitudes towards athletes who violate anti-doping regulations and standards, depending on the countries they represent. The most important rule of the Olympic Games “Sports outside politics” is no longer the law for sports officials.

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