Committee Queries World Anti-Doping Agency on Enforcement Delays, Effectiveness

U.S. Federal Government has contributed over $25 million in dues to protect athletes

June 20, 2016

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today requested that World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Craig Reedie respond to questions following reports that WADA became aware of systematic cheating by the Russian Olympic team as early as 2010 but delayed investigative steps for years.

“I am writing today to request information about the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) actions to investigate and address allegations of an elaborate state-sponsored doping program in Russia,” wrote Thune in the letter to Reedie. “Because clean competition is central to fairness in sport and bears directly on the health and safety of athletes, a strong and credible WADA is indispensable. Unfortunately, these recent allegations, and WADA’s subsequent response, have called the organization’s strength and credibility into question.  

“Media reports have alleged, and Committee staff has independently confirmed, that WADA was made aware of allegations of widespread government-sanctioned doping among Russian athletes in February 2010. However, WADA did not set up the [Independent Commission] to investigate these claims until December 2014, and it did not incorporate the terms of reference for this commission until January 2015.”

The Independent Commission’s “terms of reference” defined the scope of the investigation that narrowly examined cheating allegations against Russian track and field athletes and the Russian team during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

Thune’s letter presses for answers on the limitations of WADA’s investigative efforts after Senate Commerce Committee staff interviewed a Russian whistleblower who made specific allegations of systematic cheating by the Russian team during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver and earlier. The whistleblower alleged the existence of a “Vancouver List” similar to the Sochi list of Olympic medal-winning Russian athletes who defeated testing for use of performance enhancing drugs by means of an organized tampering operation. Thune’s letter also urged WADA to expand its inquiry of systematic cheating beyond the narrow focus on the Russian team to include additional sports, other countries, and previous games.

The U.S. government, through the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) from fiscal year 2003 to date, has contributed more than $25 million to WADA in the form of dues to protect athletes’ rights to participate in drug-free sports, and thus promote the health and safety of athletes at all levels. The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation has legislative and oversight jurisdiction over anti-doping efforts and sports in general. The Committee has a long history of supporting athlete health and safety and ensuring fair competition, both in amateur and professional sports.

Click here for a copy of Thune’s letter, including questions, to WADA President Craig Reedie.