Dozens of athletes, a key Russian whistle-blower, and the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) deputy head have expressed opposition to the lifting of the suspension of Russia's anti-doping agency (RUSADA) this week following a major doping scandal.
WADA Vice President Linda Helleland said she will vote against a proposal to reinstate RUSADA if it comes to a vote at a meeting of the organization’s executive committee in the Seychelles on September 20.
RUSADA was suspended in 2015 after an investigation revealed an extensive, government-backed doping program in sports. Moscow has repeatedly denied state involvement in doping.
Last week, WADA's compliance review committee recommended that its executive committee end a three-year suspension of RUSADA, saying the country had "sufficiently acknowledged" failures.
The recommendation sparked an outcry from various athletes and national anti-doping agencies around the world.
'Grounded In Pragmatism'
WADA on September 15 rejected accusations that it had softened requirements that Russian officials acknowledge wrongdoing and also turn over data and other information as part of the country’s efforts to be reinstated from a global sports ban.
WADA said its actions were "grounded in pragmatism," reflected "flexibility," and were "entirely in line with the RUSADA Roadmap to Compliance" established in 2017.
"I can see that progress is being made and I acknowledge the efforts done by RUSADA," Helleland said in a statement, but she asserted that Russia has not yet met key criteria for its anti-doping agency's readmission.
According to the AP news agency, more than three dozen U.S. athletes wrote a letter to WADA President Craig Reedie that read, "By acting on promises, and not proven compliance, WADA's decision on reinstating RUSADA would weaken the increasingly delicate integrity of international sport."
And Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistle-blower who helped expose Russia's state-run sports doping program, wrote in an op-ed article in the newspaper USA Today that WADA "must not fall prey to manipulation and false assertions from the Ministry [of Sport], the same arm of the Kremlin that facilitated the doping program and asserted false compliance."
Rodchenkov, who was one of the architects of the elaborate doping and cheating system, currently lives in the United States, under law enforcement protection, fearing death threats.