Former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) chief Dick Pound has called for a tough stance on Russia’s doping violations as the sports world braces for the release of a new investigation into accusations of state-run cheating.
Pound, the International Olympic Committee’s representative on the WADA Foundation Board, said firm action against Russia was necessary to deter other nations from widespread doping.
“I think if we are sufficiently firm with Russia, there will be an enormous deterrent effect,” Pound said in a wide-ranging interview ahead of the December 9 release of a report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren expected to shine more light on doping in Russia.
The first part of the McLaren report, commissioned by WADA after revelations by the former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, was published in July and detailed an elaborate state-sponsored scheme in Russia to manipulate drug tests at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Publication of the report plunged the Olympic movement into chaos on the eve of the Rio de Janeiro Games, with the IOC and WADA at loggerheads over how best to sanction the Russian Olympic Committee.
Pound believes the IOC’s failure to impose a blanket ban on Russia from Rio represented a missed opportunity, and undermined the organization’s repeated pledges of a “zero tolerance” policy on doping.
“You can’t have a mantra like the IOC does of ‘zero tolerance for doping’ which means ‘zero tolerance for doping - unless it’s Russia, because Russia is a big and important country,” Pound said. “There was an opportunity to send the message by saying ‘no matter who you are, how important is your country, if you cheat, there will be consequences’. The IOC is nothing if it has no ethical principles, it is always hoped to be the ethical leader of sport, here was a chance to demonstrate that.”
The IOC ultimately left it up to international sports federations to determine whether or not they would allow Russian athletes to take part in Rio, a decision which drew stinging criticism from anti-doping officials.
Pound said WADA should be given the authority to impose its own sanctions on countries deemed to have broken anti-doping rules, with the right of appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. “We have a very good system in place, what we do not have is a commitment of the people in that system to make it work,” Pound said.
Pound meanwhile said Russia’s rehabilitation after a year of sensational doping revelations could only take place if Moscow acknowledged the extent of the problem.
‘Anti-doping system to be ready in 2017’
President Vladimir Putin said, on Thursday, that Russia’s new anti-doping programme will be ready in early 2017 as the country battles to clean up its image. “Every cloud has a silver lining. I am convinced the so-called doping scandal will help us to create the most advanced system to fight this evil,” Putin said.