French join opposition to WADA's plan to reinstate Russia

A proposal by a WADA internal committee to lift the ban on RUSADA, which would open the way for a full restatement of Russian athletes, will be on the agenda of the agency's executive committee in Seychelles starting on Thursday.

A WADA report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren accused Russian authorities of running an elaborate doping programme. (Representational Image)   -  AFP

The president of the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) on Tuesday joined the chorus questioning the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) proposal to reinstate the Russian agency (RUSADA) ahead of a WADA meeting later this week.

A proposal by a WADA internal committee to lift the ban on RUSADA, which would open the way for a full restatement of Russian athletes, will be on the agenda of the agency's executive committee in Seychelles starting on Thursday.

“This surprises us,” said AFLD president Dominique Laurent on Tuesday at a media event in Paris. “We must ensure the credibility of the global fight against doping,” she said. Travis Tygart, the head of the US Anti-Doping Agency said on Monday that WADA was “in the last chance saloon”.

READ: Anti-doping body condemns WADA over Russia U-turn

RUSADA was suspended in November 2015. The following year a WADA report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren accused Russian authorities of running an elaborate doping programme.

In theory, the Russians still have to meet two conditions. They must accept the McLaren findings and grant access to Moscow's anti-doping laboratory.

On Monday, the Berlin-based Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations (INADO) accused WADA of seeking to fast-track Russia's reinstatement at any cost.

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“Any reasonable person would conclude that Russia has not yet fulfilled its obligations to the global sporting community,” INADO said in a statement.

“WADA must make its decisions based on consistent application of principles and not simply out of expedience pandering to the will of a powerful nation. The sporting community is eager to see Russia return as an equal participant but not at any cost.”

Laurent was also sceptical. “WADA is considering reinstating RUSADA today, but we wonder how the two requirements have been met,” she said. “We have no proof. We cannot have rules at two speeds, tough for France, but laxer for other big countries,” she added.

WADA has released recent exchanges, which include a Russian suggestion to hand over the electronic data bank of the Moscow testing lab. “It's a joke. And, it's another slap in the face to clean athletes around the world,” said Tygart.