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Opponent Of Reinstating Russia Says Was 'Bullied' By Anti-Doping Officials


The chairman of the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Athlete Committee has said in a BBC interview that she was "bullied" by some WADA officials over her opposition to reinstating Russia's anti-doping authority.

The comments came on October 12 from Beckie Scott, a Canadian former Olympic cross-country skiing champion who last month resigned from the panel that recommended lifting the ban on RUSADA, which was declared noncompliant in 2015 after an investigation found an extensive state-backed doping scheme in Russia.

Scott told the BBC that she resigned because she was "treated with disrespect," including being the target of what she called "inappropriate" comments and gestures, at a recent meeting.

After Russia's anti-doping agency was suspended in 2015, WADA gave it a road map to compliance.

But on September 20 it reinstated RUSADA without Russia having fully met two conditions: allowing access to stored urine samples at its Moscow lab and acknowledging the findings of WADA's investigative report finding widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russia.

Russia has acknowledged that individual athletes and their coaches have sometimes used banned drugs, but it maintains that the state was never involved in such doping or in an alleged cover-up of doping found by WADA.

"I think it's indicative of two things," Scott said of WADA's decision to reinstate Russia despite its failure to admit that the government was allegedly involved in the doping violations.

"One is a lack of regard for the athlete's voice in general. I think it's also indicative of the leadership of WADA's alignment with the Olympic movement," she told the BBC.

WADA denied that officials had mistreated Scott, saying the atmosphere at the meeting was the product of "strong and divergent views."

"Following some remarks made by Ms. Scott at the executive committee meeting last month, there was discussion among the members on a number of different topics, and it is fair to say that during this stage of the meeting, tensions were running high, leading to comments from all sides that reflected the strong views held," WADA said in a statement sent to Reuters.

But Scott's claim that she was bullied received backing from WADA Vice President Linda Helleland, who also opposed Russia's reinstatement.

"This behavior will never be acceptable. Time to show leadership," Helleland said on Twitter. "Time to understand one of the reasons WHY WADA Executive Committee exists: To respect and protect the athletes. And listen to their views. It should be no place for bullies!" she said.

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart, who last month also condemned the decision to reinstate RUSADA, applauded Scott's comments suggesting that WADA disregarded the views of clean athletes in making its decision to reinstate Russia and was unduly influenced by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Tygart said in a statement that the views Scott aired in the BBC interview presented "a damning and accurate reflection of the fragile state of the WADA-led global anti-doping system," and added that it was "unacceptable that the athlete voice is marginalized by those in charge of WADA and the IOC."

"The IOC tail is now unquestionably wagging the WADA dog, and that is not something anyone who cares about clean, fair sport wants to see," he said.

With reporting by AFP and Reuters
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