USAW Statement on WADA Decision Regarding Russia

Dec. 09, 2019, 2:52 p.m. (ET)

The following statement is attributable to USA Weightlifting CEO Phil Andrews regarding the World Anti Doping Agency's (WADA) Executive Committee unanimously endorsing a four-year period of non-compliance for the Russian Anti-Doping Agency.

Media inquiries should be directed to kevin.farley@usaweightlifting.org


The WADA sanction, still subject to the appeal, leaves the door open for athletes to represent Russia under a reasonably vague title of “those not implicated by the non-compliance." This will likely lead to a similar operation to that currently seen in World Athletics, or that seen in PyeongChang 2018 whereby an athlete may appear as a neutral athlete subject to approval.
 
While I believe that the punishment for Russia as a whole ought to be strict, I also believe there ought to be a way to recognize where progress is made. Specifically there has been significant progress, albeit from a horrendous starting point, in Russian Weightlifting. In Weightlifting, there has been significant sanctions upon Russia including a blanket ban from Rio 2016, a ban from the 2017 World Championships and the 2018 Youth Olympic Games. That progress, however, may not be best recognized by the ability allowed by WADA for neutral athletes to compete for the coming four years, and it is a challenge to identify which athletes are truly clean. 
 
Due to the very significant previous doping offenses, working on the basis of a similar process to those used by the IOC and World Athletics, very few Russian Weightlifting athletes (if any) will be eligible due to the alleged number who are present in the manipulated data combined with those who have existing anti-doping sanctions in their history. However, to confirm this, we must wait for the detailed implementation of these sanctions, and the outcome of the likely appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

This will see this saga last some 9 years in total, it is surely time to simply tell the full truth, provide an original data set and progress towards eventual rehabilitation and clean participation of Russia in future years.
 
Finally, it is extremely important that WADA and the sporting community take a look hard look at other nations that may be engaging in similar crimes against sport as Russia, and similar sanctions be directed to them.