June 20, 2016
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WADA hosts International Media Symposium in London

AGENCY HIGHLIGHTS EFFORTS TO REINFORCE ATHLETE CONFIDENCE FOR RIO 2016 AND BEYOND 


Montreal, 20 June 2016 – Today, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) hosted a Media Symposium for over 100 international media at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, England.  WADA President, Sir Craig Reedie, welcomed the media alongside incoming Director General, Olivier Niggli, and the Agency’s Finance Committee Chair, Francesco Ricci Bitti.

In welcoming attendees, WADA President, Sir Craig Reedie, acknowledged that the Symposium was taking place at a time of heightened media and public interest in anti-doping; and, that “sport has had to take one long, hard, look in the mirror”. He reiterated his strong support for the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)’s decision of 17 June to retain the ban on the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) as a result of ARAF’s continued “deep-seated culture of tolerance for doping” and the organization’s inability to create a “strong and effective anti-doping infrastructure capable of detecting and deterring doping”.

“WADA fully supports the IAAF Council’s decision to uphold its Task Force’s recommendation to maintain Russian suspension,” said Sir Craig Reedie, President of WADA. “The Agency applauds the outcome and the process that the IAAF Council followed by appointing an independent Task Force to evaluate ARAF’s compliance,” he said. 

“In the coming weeks, we will learn the outcomes of our Independent McLaren Investigation” he said. “If his report indicates transgressions of any kind, then there will be a precedent-setting opportunity to demonstrate our collective commitment to cleaning up sport. The world will be watching,” he continued.  It is clear that, in order to curb state-wide doping, wherever it may be in the world, countries must commit to a cultural change; and, that change can only come about by the decision-makers using their powers to full effect and by taking the necessary actions to  ensure that every country is fully dedicated to clean sport.”

Reedie then spoke of the efforts being made by WADA, and its anti-doping partners, to reinforce athlete confidence for Rio 2016 and beyond. 

“WADA, and its partners in the anti-doping community, have heard the strength of the athlete’s voice and have taken decisive action in the lead up to the Games,” said Reedie. “Whether that be by initiating the McLaren Investigation; enhancing our encouragement to more athletes and support personnel to come forward with valuable intelligence; or, by enacting more stringent quality assessment procedures to ensure laboratories maintain the highest standards; we have collectively taken action that will help level the playing field for each and every athlete competing in Rio,” he added.

Reedie also stressed the importance of the Agency’s independent compliance monitoring program, citing recent examples of how the enhanced process will help raise anti-doping standards worldwide. “The independent compliance program, which was introduced under the 2015 World Anti-Doping Code (Code), is now being used to full effect,” Reedie said.  “It ensures that every anti-doping organization’s rules are fully compatible with the Code; and that, as a result, all athletes are subject to anti-doping rules of the highest order, no matter their sport or country,“ he continued.  “We have seen first-hand evidence of this new, robust compliance process through the work we have done in encouraging countries such as Kenya, Spain and Mexico to become fully Code compliant. Rigorous and compliant anti-doping programs, and serious sanctions, are what clean athletes expect to see as they turn their attention towards the Rio Games; and that, is what we in anti-doping, are focussed on delivering,” he added.

The floor was then turned over to incoming WADA Director General, Olivier Niggli, who provided media with an overview of WADA’s activities and current challenges.  Of particular note, Niggli provided further detail regarding the new compliance program; and, emphasized the increasing importance of investigative work and whistleblowing under the 2015 Code.  “If and when evidence is uncovered that there have been violations of the Code, WADA will ensure that individuals or organizations concerned are dealt with in an appropriate fashion,” said Niggli.  He then went on to give a detailed overview of the global anti-doping efforts in the lead up to Rio 2016 and updated the media regarding the limitations of Russia’s testing program during its period of non-compliance.  “In short, we have incurred multiple delays that have resulted in a lack of testing and effectiveness of testing in Russia.  WADA has followed up numerous times with RUSADA and the Ministry and yet the delays continue”. Niggli wrapped up by looking at the ways and means that WADA could progress over the comings months and years; and, by outlining how the Agency and the anti-doping industry are protecting athletes.  


Before Reedie and Niggli opened up for one-on-one interviews, WADA’s Finance Chair, Francesco Ricci Bitti, addressed participants on the steps the Agency is taking to secure greater funding for WADA and clean sport. In his ‘Greater Funding for Clean Sport’ presentation, Ricci Bitti echoed Sir Craig Reedie’s recent appeal to broadcasters and sponsors to help fund clean sport.

MEDIA DOWNLOADS

To view today’s Media Symposium presentations, we invite media to access the following links:

Shaping the Future for Clean Athletes
By Incoming WADA Director General, Olivier Niggli

Russian Testing Update
By Incoming WADA Director General, Olivier Niggli

WADA’s Appeal for Increased Funding
By WADA Finance Committee Chair, Francesco Ricci Bitti


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ABOUT WADA 

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is the international independent organization created in 1999 to promote, coordinate and monitor the fight against doping in sport in all its forms. The Agency is composed and funded equally by the sports movement and governments of the world. Its key activities include scientific research, education, development of anti-doping capacities and monitoring of the World Anti-Doping Code – the first document harmonizing regulations regarding anti-doping in all sports and all countries.


MEDIA CONTACTS

Ben Nichols, Senior Manager, Media Relations and Communications
Phone: + 1-514-904-8820
Cell: + 1-514-979-8820
E-mail: ben.nichols@wada-ama.org
www.wada-ama.org