The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced Thursday it would lift its ban on Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA).
“Today, the great majority of WADA’s ExCo decided to reinstate RUSADA as compliant with the Code subject to strict conditions, upon recommendation by the Agency’s independent CRC and in accordance with an agreed process,” WADA President Craig Reedie stated via Twitter.
“So our reaction is totally positive. We are happy that all achievements RUSADA has done is appreciated and valued by WADA,” RUSADA Deputy Chief General Margarita Pakhnotskaya said. “And we are continuing to work hard towards their statement of RUSADA’s reputation among sporting community in Russia and outside.”
RUSADA was banned in 2015 after a WADA report found evidence of a large and sophisticated government-backed scheme to help athletes cheat on drug tests. The report resulted in Russia being temporarily barred from participating in the Olympics, forcing athletes at the 2018 Pyeonchang winter games to compete under a neutral Olympic flag. Moscow has repeatedly claimed it had no involvement in the scheme.
The decision to lift the ban drew ire from many, including the Russian scientist who says he faked the tests.
“WADA over time has become a less effective regulator of clean sport,” attorney Avni Patel, speaking for her client Grigory Rodchenkov, the Moscow laboratory director who lives in witness protection in the U.S. after alerting authorities to the alleged scheme, told VOA News.
“They need funding from countries like Russia to continue to do their work, and they need the participation of Russian athletes in the workings of WADA to be able to go forward, and so I believe that there is probably some political corruption at play here,” said Patel.
The athletes commission of the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) released an open letter Wednesday condemning RUSADA’s possible readmittance.
“Our request is simple: follow the rules that you’ve created the same way we are expected to,” the commission wrote. “You owe it to all clean athletes to be the guardians of clean sport.”
Although WADA initially required Moscow to admit its involvement in the scheme, it dropped that condition in favor of an acknowledgement that certain individuals in RUSADA were involved instead.