The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has seen the media reports that followed the UK Parliament’s Select Committee’s Evidence Sessions regarding blood doping held on 8 September. The sessions were prompted by the early August ARD and Sunday Times reports regarding a leaked database that they had obtained, belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which contained more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes for the years 2001 to 2012.
The media reports stemming from the Evidence Sessions have included an appeal from Paula Radcliffe to WADA to help ‘clear her name’, as she felt unfairly implicated by the discussions at this week’s Evidence Sessions.
It is very unfortunate that any athlete should feel implicated and that they have to defend their reputation as a result. WADA has a clear and established process set out in the World Anti-Doping Code that protects athletes. If any athlete were to have a case to answer, it allows them a full hearing and an opportunity for their voice to be heard. Our actions must remain impartial.
Let me be clear and reiterate what has already been stated by the Independent Commission as it relates to the ARD and Sunday Times reports regarding athletes’ blood values: no information in the leaked database from before 2009 – which was before the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) was introduced – could ever be considered as doping, legally or otherwise. Tarnishing an athlete’s name based on values from pre-2009 would be wholly irresponsible. At best, blood values from this time could only be used as indicators of the need for targeted future testing of those athletes that have abnormal or unusual values. Even athletes’ data from post-2009 – when the ABP had been introduced – is not necessarily indicative of doping. The strength of the ABP is that it monitors selected biological variables over time, via the blood, which indirectly reveals the effects of doping. WADA’s rules governing the ABP are designed to ensure a complete and fair review of ABP profiles and require the unanimous opinion of three experts.
WADA does not have a copy of the leaked database, but is aware that it has been provided to the Independent Commission. Any other relevant information has been referred to the Commission, as it is their responsibility alone to review this information.
On 7 August, the President of WADA urgently referred the allegations on to its Independent Commission, being led by the Agency’s founding President, Richard W. Pound, as an extension of its original mandate arising out of an initial ARD documentary broadcast on 3 December 2014. The responsibility to analyze any athlete’s blood data that may be implicated lies firmly with the Independent Commission. The Commission is continuing to examine all information entirely independently of WADA.
WADA is committed to protecting the confidentiality of athletes; in particular, their private medical information. If any athlete feels their rights are being eroded or inappropriately challenged as a result of the ARD and Sunday Times reports, they must refer those concerns to the Commission. This is the correct channel versus trial by media.