Tygart attacks WADA over 'backroom' deal to reinstate Russia

WADA reinstated Russia in September, paving the way for Russian athletes to return to competition across all sports.

Travis Tygart, the US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive.   -  AFP

US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart told AFP on Friday that athletes had lost confidence in WADA following the decision to lift the ban on Russia's anti-doping agency.

The World Anti-Doping Agency reinstated Russia in September, paving the way for Russian athletes to return to competition across all sports.

Tygart attacked the move when it was first announced, and pulled no punches when repeating his condemnation of the global anti-doping body.

He suggested that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) was too close to WADA and that athletes' confidence in their system was now “in tatters”.

“The process was a secret, backroom deal. The process itself stunk, and the decision itself too,” Tygart told AFP.

His comments triggered an indignant response from WADA, who flatly denied his claim that there was anything untoward about the procedure.

“The process was signposted at every turn, it was clearly communicated in a transparent way and the decision was reached following due diligence, consideration and with all the facts available,” a WADA statement insisted.

“People can of course disagree with the decision but to suggest it was a “backroom deal” is unfair and simply not true,” it added.

Tygart in his interview claimed athletes “have lost confidence in the global regulator to make good decisions in an open, fair and transparent manner”.

He asserted: “The practical effect (of allowing Russia back in) is nothing more than money being allowed to be spent for hosting events in Russia. The athletes, with exception on track and field athletes, have always been able to compete.”

Tygart said Russia had effectively been let off the hook after being exposed for state-sponsored doping at the Sochi Games in 2014.

“We exposed a state system, they get caught with their hand in the cookie jar, but they basically got a 'get out of jail free' card.

“No meaningful sanctions were imposed on the state that perpetuated this system, and that is the part that athletes are having a problem with.”

WADA countered Tygart's claims, pointing out that the proposal that was approved was worked out in June with the full knowledge of the Independent Compliance Review Committee.

The agency spelled out the process involved.

“When Russia accepted it in September, it was fully discussed and debated again by the CRC and then presented along with a positive recommendation to the Executive Committee.

“This recommendation was made public by WADA in advance of the Executive Committee meeting on 20 September.”

It said at the crunch meeting the vote in favour was 9-2 (with one abstention).

“This included a majority of both sports movement reps and government authorities”.

Tygart meanwhile explained how he would tackle the problem.

“You need to outsource your control system,” he said.

“You cannot both promote and police sports.

“So long as there is an IOC former executive board member or an IOC member in charge at WADA, then no we don't have any confidence that good decisions are gonna be made,” he said.