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Edwin Moses: WADA’s Credibility Rides on Its Russia Decision

Category: Other Sports,Sports

Take the I.O.C.’s “fudge” in February at the Pyeongchang Olympics where they “barred” Russian athletes, only to open the door for 168 of the country’s athletes to compete in a uniform with the words ‘Olympic Athlete From Russia’ emblazoned on the front. As if this wasn’t enough to perplex athletes and sports fans around the world, the I.O.C. then had the audacity to reinstate the Russian Olympic Committee just days after the closing ceremony.

These decisions have left the antidoping system on life support. Yet it still seems lessons have not been learned by the decision makers — the individuals responsible for representing clean competition and upholding trust in sport, not undermining it.

In the aftermath of the McLaren investigation, governments and antidoping organizations have made constructive efforts to reform the system, strengthen WADA and give the agency the tools it needs, such as greater sanctioning powers. That, let’s remind ourselves, would have taken the decision of Russian athletes’ participation at Rio 2016 out of the hands of the I.O.C. and put it into WADA’s.

The sports representation on the agency’s executive committee has often tried to stop WADA from getting the sanctioning powers it needs. While the global athlete community expects us to come together and strengthen WADA, the powers-that-be from the sporting movement continually attempt to undermine its power. This is, candidly, a dereliction of duty.

With WADA’s sudden shift in position raising questions about its transparency and about where its loyalties lie, we must begin the journey of returning trust to the system, enhancing WADA and creating a system fit for the next generations of athletes.

Having spoken to athletes, I know they overwhelmingly support the right decision being made in the Seychelles — they overwhelmingly support WADA’s sticking to its road map. This was not the time, they say, for the global antidoping body to perform the U-turn of all U-turns.

Has WADA now performed the fudge of all fudges to appease the I.O.C., and to simply move on from “the Russia issue”? Given the facts, it would seem so. We must demand that the global antidoping authority make public its recommendation, and the reasons for it.

The antidoping movement owes it to athletes to return trust to the system by making open, fair decisions, because without their trust, where are we with the clean-sport effort? Without that trust, where would it leave WADA?

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