WADA athlete chair calls for all sports to be investigated

AP News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2015 1:40 PM
WADA athlete chair calls for all sports to be investigated

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) — While the World Anti-Doping Agency geared up to suspend Russia's anti-doping operation, calls for investigation into that country's entire sports program came from athletes and leaders outside of track and field who worry their sports have been tainted, too.

The chair of WADA's athlete committee, Beckie Scott, told the agency's board she has been approached by athletes around the world wondering why track and field is the only Russian sport being investigated. The athletes committee voted to relay the message to WADA.

"They're saying, 'Why not all sports?'" said Scott, a Canadian Olympic cross-country skiing champion. "I feel that there are a lot of athletes watching and waiting right now. We're at a crossroads. We urge you to please consider these athletes and consider these sports as a whole."

WADA president Craig Reedie didn't specifically address the request about Russian sports but told Scott "it would be quite difficult to agree that we would not investigate all sports around the world." He said WADA had to figure out how to pay for expanding its scope.

WADA representatives from New Zealand and Europe agreed with Scott's proposal.

Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, called Reedie's response "a gut kick to clean athletes."

"Unless we want to be relegated to an impotent bureaucracy, we have to fulfill our promise to clean athletes and take action as requested by them," Tygart said.

WADA is meeting a week after an independent commission released a report detailing corruption inside Russia's anti-doping program and its track team.

The report made clear that Russia shouldn't be singled out as the only country with anti-doping issues, nor should track be singled out as the only sport with those problems.

Scott was the most prominent Olympic figure to speak up, though hardly the only one.

On Tuesday, a Winter Olympian sent a letter to a WADA representative asking for a more thorough look into Russian sports.

"A full investigation should be carried out into the failed testing of Russian athletes from ALL sports," said the letter, provided to The Associated Press on condition the athlete's name and country be withheld because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Also, in an interview with AP, U.S. Biathlon CEO Max Cobb expressed similar concerns.

"The way I read the report, the testing that took place (at the Olympics) in Sochi is, at least suspect, and perhaps completely worthless," Cobb said. "That raises huge questions."

Russia led all countries with 33 medals at the Sochi Games.

The debate about expanding the scope of the probe into Russian doping erupted as the board was preparing for a vote on whether to suspend the Russian anti-doping agency, RUSADA.

Scott's talk delivered the context into a debate about the WADA budget, which would get a 2 or 3 percent increase under normal circumstances.

'My experience on this is, our mandate is changing and evolving, and new challenges are being thrown in front of us," said Dick Pound, a WADA board member and the author of the independent commission report. "Perhaps it's time to take a step back and look at finance, what is really required and how do we get there, rather than doing 1 percent a year and everyone fighting and screaming about that."