Reviewing WADA’s approach to Russian doping
Commercial analysis: How did the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) deal with calls to suspend Russia from athletics competitions for its ‘state-sponsored’ doping programme? Nick Barnard, associate at Corker Binning, looks at the events that follow the allegations and offers an insight into WADA’s decision-making process.
What is the background to this doping issue?
In December 2014, a German television documentary made allegations of systematic doping in the Russian athletics programme. In particular, it was claimed that the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), the Moscow doping control laboratory and even the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) were involved in a network of corruption intended to conceal positive tests. In early 2015, as part of a joint investigation with the German broadcasters, the Sunday Times released blood data from 2001-12 which suggested that suspicious test results (including those of major medal-winners) had been routinely ignored or covered-up.
Is there a precedent for suspending all of a country’s athletes from competition?
While a programme of state-sponsored doping existed in the former East Germany, this only came to light after reunification and so no sporting sanctions were applied (although criminal prosecutions were brought against some of the individuals involved). There have since been major scandals concerning systematic doping (in professional cycling, for example) but none have implicated an entire national set-up. It is therefore unprecedented for all athletes from a particular country to be excluded, irrespective of their individual testing record.
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