WADA president, Sir Craig Reedie described how “the public’s confidence in sport was shattered in 2015 like never before” during his opening speech at WADA’s annual Symposium for Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) in Lausanne, Switzerland.
“Our backs have been pushed up against the wall and the public is demanding answers” he said. “And, we are determined to set things right through robust anti-doping programs” he promised.
Focusing on the Independent Commission Report into Russian athletics Reedie stated: “Although it was very unsettling to the world of sport, the Commission’s Investigation proved to be hugely significant – and it demonstrated the role that investigative work can play in modern-day anti-doping.”
He also took the opportunity to thank Russian whistleblowers Vitaly and Yuliya Stepanov for denouncing the doping problem in Russia saying: “We at WADA will continue to work hand in hand with both whistleblowers and the media – and we will put in place enhanced measures to protect whistleblowers better. We all want the same thing after all, and that is clean sport.”
Reedie also touched upon the need for countries to ensure that they have the right legislation in place to protect clean athletes saying that while the anti-doping industry is now reaping the rewards of its links with the law enforcement industry, “in order to truly realize the potential of anti-doping’s relationship with law enforcement and to support investigative efforts fully, we need governments to have the appropriate legislation in place so that law enforcement agencies can investigate fully and so that information can be exchanged freely and effectively”.
He also acknowledged the calls from athletes across the world, and WADA Athlete Committee Chair, Beckie Scott, to investigate further into Russian sports as well as other countries with suspected doping problems: “Alongside the WADA Athlete Chair, I will reanalyse the evidence the Independent Commission has; engage the members of the Commission to further understand the strength of the information in the Report; follow-up with my counterparts at the relevant other sports federations and National Anti-Doping Organizaitions (NADOs) that were referenced in the IC Report and determine whether there is sufficient information to propose further investigation to the WADA Executive Committee, and if so, how it would be funded”.
He emphasized the need for better funding of WADA to ensure that the industry is not restricted from conducting efficient anti-doping programs: “We [WADA] operate on an annual budget of approximately US $26 million, and so if full-blown investigations are to become the norm then we must of course seriously explore greater funding for our community.” Reedie emphasized the need to think outside the box for greater funding, and supported the idea of television broadcasters and sport sponsors funding the public’s demand for clean sport: “I have heard ever-more vociferous calls for a slice of the millions of dollars that are paid for sport television revenue to be provided to the anti-doping cause. This is a bold idea, and I put it to the leading sport federations and broadcasters: now is the time to look at this seriously. I also think that major sport sponsors should start to consider how they might help fund clean sport.”
In concluding his speech, Reedie admitted: “Sport has had its wakeup call and the anti-doping community must find some of the answers to the questions posed today if we are to shore up trust, and give sport back its credibility”.