This article recaps the establishment of WADA’s Independent Commission and the extent of their mandate to investigate allegations of doping by Russian athletes. It then describes their Report 11 findings, released on 9 November 2015, against the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF).
It will be useful for anyone wanting a recap of principal points prior to today’s release of Report 2.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE INDEPENDENT COMMISSION
On 3 December 2014, the German television channel, ARD, aired the documentary “Top Secret Doping: How Russia makes its Winners”,2 alleging the existence of a sophisticated and well established system of state-sponsored doping within ARAF, the governing body for athletics in Russia.3
WADA acknowledged the documentary and moved quickly to investigate the allegations.4 It formed an Independent Commission (IC) chaired by former WADA president, Richard Pound Q.C., and comprising Professor Richard H. McLaren (law professor and longstanding CAS arbitrator), and Mr. Gunter Younger (Head of Department Cybercrime with Bavarian Landeskriminalamt (LKA)).
The IC were assigned the following overarching task:
“to conduct an independent investigation into doping practices; corrupt practices around sample collection and results management; and, other ineffective administration of anti-doping processes that implicates Russia, the IAAF, athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors and other members of athletes’ entourages; as well as, the accredited laboratory based in Moscow and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA)” (Independent Commission Terms of Reference).5
The IC’s specific mandate was to establish whether:6
- “There have been any breaches of processes or rules (Code [The World Anti-Doping Code] and International Standards) by any signatory to the Code. This includes RUSADA [the Russian Anti-Doping Agency] and IAAF, but not exclusively.
- There has been any breach of the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL) by any accredited laboratory, including the laboratory in Moscow.
- There have been any breaches of anti-doping rules by athletes, coaches, trainers, doctors and other members of any athlete entourage. This includes officials within and outside any organization who might have been complicit in such breaches.
- There is sufficient evidence that might lead to sanction processes pursued under the World Anti-Doping Code against any individual or any organization (IC Terms of Reference, January 2015).”
This mandate was extended in August 2015 following the release of a second German documentary titled “Doping – Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics”,7 which alleged that that ARD and The Sunday Times had obtained a leaked database, belonging to the IAAF containing 12,359 blood tests from more than 5,000 athletes from the years 2001 to 2012.8 The Sunday Times subsequently released a feature claiming the information was provided "by a whistleblower who was concerned about the apparent failure of the.. IAAF to clamp down on so many blatant cases [suspicious results] that stood out in the data". They also stating that "expert analysis" of the database "reveals the extraordinary extent of cheating by athletes in the world’s most prized events."9
The findings of the original mandate were delivered at a press conference on 9 November 2015 chaired by Richard Pound, and detailed in IC Report 1.
The extended mandate was not commented on in Report 1 and the findings will instead being delivered at a press conference on 14 January 2016 and detailed in IC Report 2.
REPORT 1 FINDINGS
Report 1 detailed the IC’s findings against the institutions implicated in the ADR documentary, the most notable being the IAAF (Chapter 10); ARAF (Chapter 11); RUSADA (Chapter 12); the Accredited Moscow Laboratory (Chapter 13); and the Ministry of Sport of the Russian Federation (Chapter 19).
The summary of its findings (Chapter 21) revealed an in-depth systematic level of corruption and bribery practices at the highest levels of international athletics. It also made a series of powerful recommendations (Chapter 22), including a statement from Pound that if the ARAF did not make significant changes it should be suspended from international competition; a recommendation subsequently adopted by the IAAF.10 It also promised further revelations once criminal investigations in France into, among other things, alleged corruption by the former president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Lamine Diack, are completed.11
Given the scope of Report 1, and the fact the focus of attention and subsequent disciplinary actions have been on the IAAF and ARAF, this piece will focus on examining the findings against those two bodies.
FINDINGS AGAINST THE IAAF
Report 1 uncovered evidence that the IAAF conducted itself contrary to its responsibility. There existed a consistent disregard for ethical behaviour and a conspiracy to conduct and conceal corrupt behaviour by particular highly placed members and officials of the IAAF and the ARAF.12
Those elements of corruption identified in the investigation have been submitted to law enforcement officials and is progressing under the auspices of Interpol Project Augeas.13 Accordingly, the remaining details relative to these events are subject to restricted dissemination at this time, so as not to interfere with the on-going investigation and judicial process.14
Without supplying the reader with confidential findings, the IC’s key findings with respect to the allegations regarding the IAAF are as follows:15
- “The IC investigation ultimately corroborated the whistleblower’s allegations of a multifaceted and complex conspiracy involving members of the athletic community with the IAAF and the ARAF; and
- The IC investigation found evidence of breaches of processes and rules of the Code and ISL Standards, as well as IAAF rules and processes by IAAF officials.”
Further specific findings included: (a) “considerable delay by the IAAF Anti-Doping department, varying between 18 months and 25 months, in informing the athlete and the ARAF of the investigation into an athlete’s potential ADRV [Anti-Doping Rule Violation] based on the ABP [Athlete Biological Passport]. This resulted in athletes being able to compete in the London 2012 Olympics and other world athletics events”; (b) “IAAF was inexplicably lax in following up suspicious blood (and other) profiles”; and (c) "inconsistencies in the proposed sanctions by IAAF and the eventual sanctions".16
The IC noted that the allegations of corrupt behaviour affect a fraction of the many hard-working and committed men and women of the IAAF and ARAF. The IC was impressed by the courage of several staff members of the IAAF and whistleblowers within Russian athletics, who took a stand against corruption within their sport.
FINDINGS AGAINST ARAF
ARAF is the governing body for athletics in Russia and is the National Member Federation representing Russia at the IAAF. Its responsibilities include:
- the selection of athletes to represent Russia and compete in international sporting events;
- the results management of Russian athletes who have tested positive for prohibited substances or other violations of the IAAF and WADA regulations, including findings of Anti-Doping Rule Violations; and
- the coordination of national training camps and related venues for athletes preparing to compete nationally or to qualify for international events, such as the Olympic Games.17
Nature of the investigations
The IC conducted an intensive and thorough investigation into the allegations made against ARAF's leadership and coaches. The investigation included an in-depth examination of Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) testing results, follow-up timelines, interviews of key witnesses, document and technical analysis, with the primary objective of corroborating or disproving the allegations.18
The IC's methodology involved it conducting detailed interviews of, and receiving digital recordings and related evidence from, the whistleblowers, including performance-enhancing drug (PED) samples. The whistleblowers consisted of athletes and regulatory and support personnel from within ARAF. The IC investigators spoke with other Russian athletes to act as potential witnesses but many were simply too frightened for their careers or safety, or did not believe their testimony would change anything. The IC found it significant that more than 90% of the Russian athletes approached by the IC failed to "either respond to IC interview requests or emphatically refused to be interviewed".19
The whistleblowers' secret digital recordings of coaches and other individuals involved in Russian athletics provided an important evidentiary basis for the investigation. On these recordings, coaches talk openly about the use of PEDs. The IC found that in one video, a coach was shown to supply PEDs to an athlete. To ensure the authenticity of the statements made on the recordings, the investigation sought independent and objective corroboration in order to further examine all sources of allegations. This included audits of the Moscow (the only WADA-accredited laboratory in Russia) and Lausanne (commonly used by WADA for re-testing samples) laboratories and an audit of IAAF records.
Finally, the IC also had independent forensic tests performed by a specialist forensic agency to establish there had been no traces of manipulation. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), having performed a critical analysis of the information, confirmed the dates that the recordings were made and also provided an opinion that the recordings were not manipulated or fake.20 Accordingly, the IC was satisfied with the quality of the analysis and the conclusions as to the authenticity of the recordings.
A summary of the IC's key findings against ARAF as a whole included the following:
- “Evidence of a conspiracy and cover-up of doping was found among ARAF coaching staff at a sufficient scale to indicate widespread and institutional abuse. The IC found evidence that several coaches at senior level and the ARAF Chief Medical Officer were committing violations of the [WADA 2015 World Anti-Doping] Code articles 2.6 [possession of a prohibited substance or a prohibited method], 2.8 [administration or attempted administration to any athlete in competition of any prohibited substance or prohibited method, or administration or attempted administration to any athlete out-of-competition of any prohibited substance or prohibited method that is prohibited out-of-competition] and 2.9 [complicity] over many years.
- ARAF received disclosure (to which it was not entitled) regarding the identification of 23 Russian athletes who were subject of an IAAF inquiry regarding abnormal ABP testing results (see Chapter 18). The fact that ARAF was aware of the internal details as a result of the disclosure provide ARAF with an advantage over other countries, by allowing ARAF to identify in advance, specific athletes who were vulnerable to ADRVs prior to the 2012 London Olympic Games. This “early warning” knowledge enabled ARAF to engage in wrongful conduct in order to delay the application of ADRVs thereby allowing several Russian athletes with abnormal ABP test results to compete at the 2012 London Olympic Games and, in certain cases, win medals.21
- On the secret whistleblower recordings, coaches discussed with athletes, in their own words, how ABP testing can be circumvented, the problems ARAF has had with preventing ABP from capturing violations of their athletes and what they can do about it in the future, including the suggestion of administering newly developed PEDs that will escape detection22
- As of June 2015, there continues to exist widespread doping taking place at the Olympic Training Centre in Saransk, despite the on-going and well-publicized investigation into doping on the Russian athletics team.23
- There was active use of blood transfusion equipment at the OTC [Olympic Training Centre (at Saransk), which is supported by forensic analysis demonstrating systematic use of this type of equipment to gain sporting advantage."24
In addition to the above, the IC found that through the collective actions of coaches and administrators, an atmosphere was created in which an athlete’s choice was frequently limited to accepting the prescribed and mandated doping regimen or not being a member of the national team.25
Substantial findings in relation to the IAAF are due to be published by the IC in Report 2 on 14 January 2016. Whilst the IAAF has taken steps, in the aftermath of Report 1, including suspending the ARAF,26 taking action against individuals such as Papa Diack (who has been banned for life),27 and moving to appoint Lord Deighton to "chair a review of the organisation’s systems and controls, and how to establish the best practices in class governance";28 it is is likely that future steps will be dictated by Report 2 and the eventual findings of Interpol Operation Augeas.
- All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) Anti-Doping Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) INTERPOL IOC Russia United Kingdom (UK) World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) World Anti-Doping Code (WADC)