Accessibility links

Breaking News

Russian Doping To Loom Large At WADA Summit


Polish Minister of Sports and Tourism Witold Banka is expected to be voted WADA's next chief.
Polish Minister of Sports and Tourism Witold Banka is expected to be voted WADA's next chief.

The World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) three-day conference on drugs in sport has opened in Poland, with the long-running Russian doping scandal overshadowing the proceedings.

On the opening day of the event in Katowice on November 5, outgoing WADA President Craig Reedie said the Russian scandal that erupted in 2015 was the biggest challenge the organization had faced in its 20-year existence.

Reedie said the level of cheating was "unprecedented," putting WADA under mounting pressure to work for all clean athletes as Russia's anti-doping agency, RUSADA, was declared noncompliant.

"What it taught us when it erupted was that we were not equipped to deal with such a large-scale [doping] program," he said.

Ahead of the conference, WADA's first president, Dick Pound, called for harsher treatment of athletes and countries who are found guilty of doping.

"Many sports now know that someone is looking over their shoulder," the 77-year-old Canadian told AFP.

WADA has documented more than 1,000 Russian doping cases across dozens of sports, most notably at the Winter Olympics that Russia hosted in Sochi in 2014.

The country was found guilty of a government-organized effort to mask samples from athletes using banned substances between 2011 and 2015.

Russia's Athletics Federation has been banned form international competition since 2015.

RUSADA was also suspended in 2015.

New revelations appeared in September when electronic data from the former Moscow laboratory was suspected of having been manipulated when it was handed to WADA investigators earlier in the year.

Consequently, Russia could face a ban from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

The latest allegations are still being

investigated and no decision on Russia is expected in Katowice.

Witold Banka, who will formally be elected to replace Reedie later this week at WADA's board meeting, promised he would not tolerate cheating or manipulations.

"The new future of anti-doping starts today," Banka, a former sprinter who helped Poland win a bronze medal in the 4x400 meters relay at the 2007 World Championships, told the Katowice conference.

The president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, pledged $10 million to fight doping in sports, saying half of the money will go toward storing samples from pre-Olympic testing for 10 years while the rest will fund investigations and research.

Hundreds of doping samples from the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Games have been reanalyzed with improved methods, resulting in more than 120 positive tests.

With reporting by ESPN, dpa, AFP, Reuters, and AP
  • 16x9 Image


    RFE/RL journalists report the news in 27 languages in 23 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established. We provide what many people cannot get locally: uncensored news, responsible discussion, and open debate.

RFE/RL has been declared an "undesirable organization" by the Russian government.

If you are in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine and hold a Russian passport or are a stateless person residing permanently in Russia or the Russia-controlled parts of Ukraine, please note that you could face fines or imprisonment for sharing, liking, commenting on, or saving our content, or for contacting us.

To find out more, click here.