Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw writes:
We set out below the background to and the terms of refer of this important Independent Commission Report issued today on the extent of systemic doping in Russian Atletics and also its hard-hitting and widespread recommendations, which have extensive implications for the All-Russia Athletics Federation and its officials, as well as the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations), the World Governing Body of the Sport of Athletics.
The extent of corruption revealed by this Report makes the current scandals at FIFA, to a certain extent, pale into relative insignificance!
The new President of the IAAF, Sebastian Coe, of the UK, has a Herculean task on his hands to restore the credibility and integrity of his sport on a global basis and has remarked that “these are dark days for athletics…. [and] a long road to redemption!”
On 03 December 2014, the German television channel ARD aired the documentary “Top Secret Doping: How Russia makes its Winners”, 1 alleging the existence of a sophisticated and well established system of state-sponsored doping within the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), the governing body for the sport of athletics in Russia, recognized as such by the responsible international federation (IF), the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
Implicated in the documentary were Russian athletes, coaches, national and international sport federations, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the Moscow WADA-accredited laboratory. Witness statements and other evidence allegedly exposed high levels of collusion among athletes, coaches, doctors, regulatory officials, and sports agencies to systematically provide Russian athletes performance enhancing drugs (PEDs)2 in order to achieve the state’s main goal, as alleged in the ARD documentary: producing winners.
1 Seppelt, H. (Director). (2014). Geheimsache Doping: Wie Russland seine Sieger macht [Motion Picture].
2 Performance-enhancing drugs, PEDS, doping substances and prohibited substances are expressions used interchangeably in this Report.
The response by WADA following these explosive allegations was immediate. WADA, whose mission is to promote and coordinate the fight against doping in sport internationally, moved quickly to form an Independent Commission (IC) “to conduct an independent investigation into doping practices; corrupt practices around sample collection and results management; and, other ineffective administration of anti-doping processes that implicate Russia, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors and other members of athletes’ entourages; as well as, the accredited laboratory based in Moscow and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA)” (Independent Commission Terms of Reference).3
3 WADA, 2015. Independent Commission- Terms of Reference. [Online] Available at:
https://www.wada-ama.org/en/resources/independent-commission-terms-of-reference [Accessed 27 August 2015].
1.8 IC Recommendations
The Independent Commission (IC) considers that certain introductory comments should be made regarding its recommendations.The mandate of the IC was to examine into the allegations made on the televisionprograms aired by ARD German television, with particular reference to athletics in Russia and the IAAF.
While there are reliable indications that sports in Russia, other than athletics, are affected by doping, the IC considered this to be outside its Terms of Reference. Although the IC report and recommendations are confined to Russia and athletics, the IC wishes to make it clear that, in its considered view, Russia is not the only country, nor athletics the only sport, facing the problem of orchestrated doping in sport. The IC has provided certain results of its investigations to Interpol. Interpol has agreed to launch an integrated inquiry into the criminal nature of actions on the part of a number of actors appearing in the course of the investigations. Because of this, certain portions of the IC report will be held back until the police authorities have concluded their own investigations and have decided upon the possible prosecution of criminal charges. Once that stage has been reached, the IC will release that portion of its report. Athletics is an important sport within the Olympic Movement and Russia is an important country in world sport. Such importance should be reflected by leadership in the fight against doping in sport, not the reverse. The IC has found that not only was leadership in the fight against doping in sport lacking, but also that there were organized efforts on the part of many senior coaches and officials, inside and outside Russia, to promote doping and make it possible for such efforts to be successful, including the cover-up of certain positive cases of doping.
IFs exercise exclusive governance of their sports in order to nurture the development of the sport that each IF represents. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recognizes a single IF per sport for purposes of the participation of that sport in the Olympic Movement. Any conduct at the highest levels of an IF that permits evasion, deception and extortion to be the modus operandi of the IF, to the detriment of its members and the sport itself, results in inexcusable transgressions of their mission and abuse of the trust of all those involved in the sport.
Leadership implies responsibility and acceptance of the consequences of noncompliance, regardless of the importance of a sport or a particular country. It is no answer that athletics is too important to be required to comply with anti-doping rules, that the IAAF is too important to be accountable, or that Russia is too important to be sanctioned. It is precisely because all are so important that sanctions proportional to the seriousness of the conduct must be imposed. Athletics, the IAAF and Russia have the means and opportunity to change their conduct.
It is not relevant for purposes of this report that the IAAF and RUSADA may conduct more tests than certain other sports and countries. It is obvious that what has been done has been insufficient as well as tainted. The current exercise is not a search for the lowest common denominator. Quantitative testing is no substitute for qualitative testing.
The IC expects that at least part of the response to this Report will be a predictableconcern that some “innocent” athletes may be excluded from participation incompetitions if the recommendations in the Report are adopted by the appropriateorganizations. “Innocent” athletes, around the world and in Russia, are alreadysuffering as a result of the conduct identified in this Report: they need protection. The root cause of any non-participation is not the Report, but rather the unacceptable conduct of those responsible for the situation giving rise to the IC investigation and Report. It is they who must assume the responsibility for their actions. The unacceptable conduct can easily be solved by those responsible, who must assume their responsibilities to protect the clean athletes, and thereby enable the clean athletes to participate once again. Timely action on their part should mean that no significant competitions will be missed.
The IC offered, in writing, to meet with the Russian Minister of Sport prior to completing and issuing its Report. A meeting was held in Zurich on 21 September 2015, in the course of which the Minister was invited to provide any comments or information that he considered relevant and was advised in general terms of the state of the IC’s investigation and likely directions.
1.8.2 Specific Recommendations
With respect to the Moscow Laboratory
- THAT the Director of the Moscow Laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, be permanently removed from his position.
- THAT the WADA accreditation of the Moscow Laboratory be revoked.
- THAT pending any decision regarding revocation of accreditation, the Moscow
Laboratory be provisionally suspended from all testing activities and that all samples collected in Russia be sent for analysis at other accredited laboratories.
WADA staff shall oversee the completion and transfer of the work in progress at the Moscow laboratory to other accredited laboratories.
With respect to RUSADA
- THAT any eventual reaccreditation process in respect of the Moscow Laboratory focus, in addition to scientific expertise and quality control, on measures that will ensure that it operates, in fact, entirely independently from any other agency, institution, government ministry or other outside influence.
- THAT the Moscow Laboratory promptly and continuously disclose to WADA the terms of all contracts regarding scientific and other assistance provided to it, as well as any other information requested by WADA.
- THAT RUSADA be declared Code non-compliant.
- THAT the Code non-compliant status of RUSADA shall remain in effect until
WADA determines otherwise pursuant to a reasoned decision.
- THAT WADA should consider removing non-compliance status only upon receiving and approving a comprehensive report on how the failures identified by the IC will be resolved. In particular, such report should provide for all necessary measures to ensure the independence and autonomy of any eventual accredited laboratory in Russia, including sufficient multi-year funding to enable it to function as contemplated by the world anti-doping program.
- THAT RUSADA be required to submit its annual test distribution plans to WADA for approval until such time as WADA may determine that such a process is no longer necessary.
- THAT RUSADA DCOs be monitored as determined by WADA personnel to ensure that all testing is conducted in conformity with the International standard for testing and investigations (ISTI).
- THAT RUSADA shall, using all possible means, ensure that no details of out-of competition tests are communicated to coaches, athletes or any other party in advance of such tests.
- THAT RUSADA shall initiate, and report to WADA on, actions taken in respect of any coaches, officials or athletes who may interfere or attempt to interfere with any testing procedure.
- THAT RUSADA investigate the circumstances of those athletes and coaches who the IC attempted to contact and interview, but who refused to meet with or communicate with IC investigators and report to the Ministry of Sport and WADA on its findings prior to 31 December 2015.
With respect to ARAF
- THAT RUSADA shall fulfil its compliance duty to report to WADA on any interference by any party or organization in any aspect of its responsibility.
- THAT RUSADA shall ensure prompt action is taken with respect to suspicious ABPs or test results, including its participation in any subsequent appeals taken by any party to CAS.
- THAT RUSADA continue to offer and organize anti-doping courses for coaches,officials and athletes, the content of which shall be approved by WAD.
- THAT RUSADA shall ensure that foreign athletes present in the RussianFederation are subject to testing upon request of other ADOs or on its owninitiative.
- THAT WADA shall immediately declare ARAF to be Code non-compliant. (The IC would have no objection to and suggests that ARAF might, should it prefer, agree to an immediate provisional suspension in order to begin remedial actions to achieve Code compliance as quickly as possible.)
- THAT ARAF shall undertake an internal investigation regarding non-compliant Code conduct of any of its officials, coaches and athletes identified in the IC Report and since 01 January 2011, and shall report in writing to the WADA Foundation Board within six months of the issuance of this Report.
- THAT ARAF, as a condition of lifting any suspension or provisional suspension, shall satisfy WADA that its officials, coaches and athletes act in accordance with the Code.
- THAT ARAF shall ensure that it acts on a timely basis with respect to any suspicious cases submitted to it by the IAAF or by WADA.
- THAT ARAF shall provide and implement appropriate means and resources to enable athletes and other whistleblowers to report on Code non-compliant situations, whether directly to ARAF or through the WADA hot line and shall actively promote an open environment that will encourage such conduct. ARAF shall report to WADA on remedial actions it has taken.
- THAT ARAF shall report to WADA on any anti-doping practices or procedures within its relationship with the IAAF that seem to be outside established authority or different from prior practices.
- THAT the cases of those individuals identified by the IC for appropriate discipline by IAAF be pursued as expeditiously as possible, accompanied by provisional sanctions.
- THAT WADA recommend to the IOC that it not accept any entries from ARAF (or the Russian NOC in respect of athletics) until ARAF has been declared Code compliant pursuant to a reasoned decision by WADA.
With respect to the Russian Federation
- THAT Dr. Sergei Nikolaevich Portugalov be permanently removed from his position as Chief of the ARAF Medical Commission.
- THAT before any International Event entries are accepted from ARAF, ARAF must provide the IAAF, the Ministry of Sport and WADA with a list of all athletes and coaches provided with doping substances and/or counselled by Dr. Sergei Nikolaevich Portugalov regarding doping.
- THAT ARAF propose to the IAAF reasonable terms of office limitations for its senior officers.
- THAT the Russian Ministry of Sport shall ensure that RUSADA and any eventual accredited laboratory have adequate budgets to ensure that, in such a large and important sports country, an effective anti-doping program can effectively be implements.
- THAT all necessary steps be taken to remove and prevent any actions by state agencies (including the FSB) that may affect the independence of the anti-doping program in Russia.
- THAT all necessary steps shall be taken to ensure that RUSADA and ARAF understand and comply with their anti-doping responsibilities.
- THAT all necessary steps shall be taken to ensure that Russian athletes and athlete support personnel do not travel abroad to train using false identities to confound their whereabouts obligations.
- THAT medical advisors holding official government positions should not be office holders or otherwise involved in national sport federations or IF medical commissions.
- THAT Dr. Sergey Nikolaevich Portugalov be permanently removed from his position at the All-Russian Research Institute of Physical Culture and Sports and not employed or participate in any government program involving any sport.
- THAT the Russian Ministry of Sport take all necessary steps to ensure that samples collected in Russia can promptly be sent to other WADA-accredited laboratories without delay or hindrance and to communicate the applicable process to WADA
- THAT the Russian Ministry of Sport ensure the complete operational independence of RUSADA.
With respect to the IAAF
- THAT the Russian Ministry of Sport create and implement processes that will guarantee the complete independence of any WADA-accredited laboratory in the Russian Federation and that it take advantage of WADA expertise in such matters as it may choose.
- THAT to demonstrate its commitment to doping free sport in the Russian Federation, the Russian Ministry of Sport invite the responsible authority under the International Convention Against Doping in Sport (UNESCO Convention) to select the Russian Federation for purposes of auditing its compliance with the UNESCO Convention at the earliest possible opportunity.
- THAT notwithstanding its responsibilities for matters of state security, the FSB be invited not to interfere in the international obligations of the Russian Federation in relation to Code-related activities of RUSADA and the Moscow laboratory.
- THAT neither accredited nor non-accredited laboratories be used for purposes of monitoring athlete compliance with their Code obligations.
- THAT the Ministry of Sport shall have the power to define and oversee the conditions under which the director of any accredited laboratory in the Russian Federation can be removed from office for reasons of professional misconduct, including non-compliance with the Code.
- THAT the Ministry of Sport should have the power to intervene and terminate the position of any coach found to have engaged in non-complaint Code conduct independent of any national federation for whom the coach may work.
The IC has withheld most of the contents of the chapter on the IAAF in order to not compromise the continuing efforts in respect of information provided to Interpol. There are very serious criminal allegations in the ARD documentary. The IC is in possession of information which has been passed on to Interpol for the purposes of an integrated investigative activity, Operation Augeas. Therefore, most of the IC’s Recommendations in respect of the IAAF are being withheld until such time as the full chapter is released.
- THAT the IAAF establish the position of Chief Compliance Officer in matters of anti-doping, with complete independence and sufficient financial and personnel support to enable it to monitor Code compliance, including target testing, results management, and whereabouts.
With respect to WADA
- THAT the IAAF establish the position of Ombudsperson (independent of the IAAF, but paid for by the IAAF), to whom athletics athletes and other personnel can have access for advice and assistance whenever they may be subject to pressures to use doping substances and methods.
- THAT WADA shall make all the declarations and take all the actions recommended in this Report.
- THAT WADA ensure that all suspicious test results described in this Report and any subsequent Report are followed-up promptly and thoroughly and that outcomes be reported on a timely basis.
- THAT WADA shall ensure that Test distribution plans of NADOs considered to be high risk are sufficiently rigorous to avoid gaps such as were found in the course of the IC investigation.
- THAT findings of Code non-compliance are major deterrents to ineffective antidoping programs. Sixteen years after the formation of WADA is more than enough time to enable ADOs to develop and implement adequate anti-doping programs; failure to have done so amounts to indifference to the protection of clean athletes.
- THAT, recognizing the inherent conflicts of interest that exist within the WADA Executive Committee and Foundation Board, WADA consider establishment of an independent mechanism that will have the power to make or recommend such findings of non-compliance.
- THAT WADA exclude Russian membership on the Foundation Board and all committees and working groups of WADA until ARAF and RUSADA have been determined to be Code compliant pursuant to a reasoned decision by WADA
- THAT no meetings of WADA, its Executive Committee and any of its committees or working groups take place in Russia until RUSADA and ARAF have been declared Code compliant as recommended above
1.9 Other IC Observations
- THAT it is a mandatory element in the International Standard for Testing and Investigations for DCOs to complete doping control forms with full and complete disclosure and they and others are to report promptly to WADA in relation to any hindrance encountered in sample collection, or, transporting or shipping samples from Russia.
- THAT atypical test results in any samples tested by any accredited laboratory be automatically identified, reported to and promptly followed-up by the appropriate Anti-Doping Organisations, including verification of analysis menus employed and requesting additional testing for exogenous testosterone, regardless of reported t/e ratios.
- THAT WADA insist that RUSADA, along with all other Code Signatories, comply with its obligations to provide complete and timely data for ADAMS by 31 December 2015.
- THAT WADA urge the Russian Federation and other government members to accelerate the number and robustness of compliance audits in relation to the International Convention Against Doping in Sport (UNESCO Convention).
- THAT the WADA Compliance Working Group report to each WADA Foundation Board meeting on specific steps taken by WADA to protect the interests of clean athletes in the particular reporting period.
- THAT any country with Code non-compliant legislation be declared to be Code non-compliant.
- THAT in any situation regarding Code compliance that it considers to be urgent, (for example, the non-authorized destruction of samples by an accredited laboratory) WADA be given the power, after consultation, to make a provisional declaration of non-Code compliance, which shall thereupon come into immediate effect, subject to the outcome of any appeal that may be taken to CAS (no preliminary measures).
- THAT WADA add the names of Grigory Rodchenkov and Sergei Portugalov and coaches Viktor Mikhailovich Chegin, Vladimir Kazarin, Aleksey Melnikov and Valdimir Mokhnev, to its Prohibited Association List.
- THAT all accredited laboratories be required to submit to WADA all contracts regarding services rendered by third parties to the laboratories.
- THAT WADA develop and implement a whistleblower assistance and protection policy and train its staff to be careful in how they respond to and handle whistleblower information.
- In order to be able to engage in and adequately manage international investigations, WADA must hire appropriately qualified staff and allocate appropriate budgets and resources for that purpose.
The IC wants to make it clear that Russia is not the only country with an ineffective anti-doping program and that Athletics is not the only sport with an ineffective antidoping program, but Russia and athletics were the subject of the Terms of Reference of the IC. In the circumstances, while the IC expresses no concluded opinion as to other sports in Russia, there is no reason to believe that Athletics is the only sport in Russia to have been affected by the identified systemic failures.
While written evidence of government involvement has not been produced, it would be naïve in the extreme to conclude that activities on the scale discovered could have occurred without the explicit or tacit approval of Russian governmental authorities
The IC notes that because of the organization of the Report, there is a certain degree of repetition, to make it easier for certain chapters to be read on a stand-alone basis. In addition, the overwhelming majority of exhibits and interview records have not been reproduced, in the interests of limiting the volume of the Report. Such materials have, however, been retained in secured storage.