Paula Radcliffe has accused the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) of failing to do its job properly following the release of the Wada independent commission’s explosive report in Geneva on Monday.
The report revealed a Russian state-run programme of doping, which it said led all the way to the Kremlin, and was also critical of Wada’s practices. But while Radcliffe censured the anti-doping agency, she fell short of calling for a change of leadership in president Sir Craig Reedie.
“The back of the report makes for hard reading for Wada,” Radcliffe told The Independent. “It effectively says Wada didn’t do its job properly. We need to look at where Wada went wrong.”
Dick Pound and his report co-authors, Richard McLaren and Günter Younger, called on the organisation to more stringently ensure not just Russia but that other anti-doping bodies were acting in accordance with its anti-doping code. Amid the criticism, Reedie – in a column on these pages – insists he remains the right man to lead Wada in rectifying the situation in Russia and, more broadly, deterring global doping.
“I very much believe that Wada is the right organisation to lead the fight against doping,” he says, “and I am happy to be at the head of that fight.”
Despite the criticism of Wada, Radcliffe said it was not about a change of leadership but an injection of capital that now had to be made available for the agency in the wake of the 323-page report’s findings.
“This is the perfect platform to call on people across all sports to invest much more in anti-doping,” she said. “Action needs to happen or else you’re letting down the athletes and people watching the sport.”
Radcliffe herself has been embroiled in questions of doping after she accused a Parliamentary committee of effectively naming her as the high-profile British athlete that had recorded suspicious readings from the leaked IAAF blood database.
The marathon world record holder has denied any wrongdoing and is still waiting to be publicly exonerated by Wada. “I released all my data to the right people in consultation with Wada,” she added. “But it’s taken a long time for anything to happen. I appreciate now they had bigger things to concern themselves with on the basis of Monday in Geneva.”
Radcliffe, though, was less critical of IAAF president Sebastian Coe and the sport of athletics as a whole despite criticism in the report and more damaging revelations expected to come in the latter part of Pound’s report before the end of the year.
“What’s getting lost here for me is that this is not just athletics, this is across all sports,” she said. “There obviously was a cover-up going on but this is the sign that people haven’t got away with it.”
Coe, like Radcliffe, is to undergo Parliamentary scrutiny with the culture, media and sport select committee planning to question him before Christmas on the widespread doping and the IAAF’s role in that.
The new IAAF president, Coe, has been criticised for his £100,000-a-year Nike ambassadorial role and committee member Damian Collins, MP for Folkestone and Hythe, said he planned to question him on the subject. “If athletics is going to have a clean image it can’t be right for the president of the IAAF to be sponsored by Nike,” Collins said. “Seb Coe should give up his role as a Nike ambassador.”
Coe has received backing from Radcliffe as the right man to lead athletics out of what its president called “the dark days”, a sentiment previously echoed by UK Athletics chairman, Ed Warner.
But Warner called for a shake-up of those around Coe: “Wholesale changes are needed. Seb needs to bring in a chief executive and an executive chairman. He needs to understand that he can’t just wave a magic wand and solve everything by himself.”
As Wada and the IAAF battles to clean up athletics, Warner said he fully expected dopers to be competing at next year’s Olympics, regardless of whether Russia is banned from competing at the Games, which Pound described as the “nuclear option” in response to his commission’s report.
But the UKA chief said the board for the 2017 World Championships in London had met on Monday to discuss how to ensure the capital can host a championships “the public and athletes can believe in”.
He said: “We want London to be the first transparent, clean World Championships ever. For me personally I think next year’s Olympics in Rio is too close to aspire to do that but for London that should be the aspiration and a realistic one at that.” Of the board meeting, he added: “One of the things we debated was what can we do to crank up the doping controls for the championships. What are the perfect parameters to ensure we have systems in place that are beyond reproach? We have to have that ambition for the future of the sport.”
The stance is partly in response to Pound suggesting that the last major sporting spectacle, London 2012, had been “sabotaged” by Russian drug cheats.
The International Olympic Committee provisionally suspended Lamine Diack as an honorary member while the 82-year-old former IAAF president is investigated by French police over allegations he took bribes to cover up positive drugs tests. Diack also resigned as head of the the International Athletics Foundation. The IOC called on athletics’ governing body to start disciplinary proceedings against the athletes who have been accused of doping.
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