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‘Be guardians of clean sport’: Athletes demand WADA Russia rethink

Russia’s doping technique. © AFP / Jonathan STOREY

PARIS, France, Sep 20 – High-profile stars such as Paula Radcliffe and Valerie Adams led athletes’ demands on Wednesday for WADA to rethink plans to lift its suspension of Russia, claiming the anti-doping body “owe it to all clean athletes to be the guardians of clean sport”.

WADA stunned the sports world last week after announcing that the body’s compliance review committee had recommended lifting its three-year suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).

The decision is set to be announced at a WADA meeting in the Seychelles on Thursday.

However, women’s marathon world record holder Radcliffe and Olympic and world shot put champion Adams have put their names to an IAAF Athletes’ Commission letter urging WADA to step back from the brink.

“The sporting community around the world has spoken and the message is consistent and clear: RUSADA cannot be declared compliant until all outstanding conditions set out in the Roadmap have been satisfied,” they wrote.

“We believe that any compromises to the Roadmap will tarnish WADA’s reputation and bring global sport into disrepute.”

WADA suspended the RUSADA in 2015 after declaring it to be non-compliant following revelations of a vast, Moscow-backed scheme to avoid drug testers.

A WADA report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren accused Russian authorities of running an elaborate doping programme with the full support of the Russian Ministry of Sport and the Russian secret service or FSB.

Russian officials had previously concluded that their doping system failed, but refused to acknowledge claims of institutional involvement.

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Tensions within WADA emerged earlier this year over whether Russia had done enough for the sanction to be lifted, with some officials arguing it had not completed a “roadmap” to rehabilitation.

However WADA’s statement last Friday said its compliance committee had recommended reinstating RUSADA after reviewing a letter from the Russian Ministry of Sport.

“We recognise that Russian sport has taken significant steps forward on the road to compliance,” added the IAAF Athletes Commission in Wednesday’s letter, signed by 14 individuals.

“However, given the severity of Russia’s egregious violations to the integrity of sport, the conditions in the roadmap are appropriate, proportionate and more importantly, grounded on principles of transparency and integrity.

“The roadmap was created and approved by you. Our request is simple: follow the rules that you’ve created the same way we are expected to. You owe it to all clean athletes to be the guardians of clean sport.”

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