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World’s governing anti-doping body seeks Russia’s membership reinstatement — WADA chief

WADA President Sir Craig Reedie says WADA has no plans changing the Therapeutic Use Exemption system

MOSCOW, February 22. /TASS, Igor Lazorin, Yevgeny Ionov/. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) strongly supports the reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s (RUSADA) membership and is waiting for the Russian side to implement the set re-compliance criteria, WADA President Sir Craig Reedie told TASS.

"WADA is resolutely focused on supporting the Russian Anti-Doping Agency in its efforts to return to compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code, but it is first important that there is acceptance of the findings of the McLaren Report in Russia," Reedie said in an interview with TASS.

"WADA is working with the relevant authorities in Russia, the two international experts [that were installed in Russia in 2016 to ensure that there would be no external interference during the period of non-compliance] and UK Anti-Doping (UKAD) to ensure that there is an improved, robust anti-doping program that regains the confidence of athletes and the international community," according to the WADA chief.

"A roadmap to re-compliance has been provided to RUSADA, and the ball is firmly in their court," Sir Craig Reedie added.

Less than two years ago the WADA Independent Commission carried out an investigation in regard to the activities of RUSADA, the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), the Moscow anti-doping laboratory and the Russian Sports Ministry, and announced the results of the probe on November 9, 2015.

The commission accused certain athletes and sports officials of doping abuse and involvement in other activities related to violations of international regulations on performance enhancing substances. The work of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory and RUSADA was eventually suspended.

Starting last year’s January control over anti-doping regulations in Russian sports has been exercised by RUSADA strictly under the supervision of the British anti-doping agency (UKAD).

Therapeutic Use Exemption system

The World Anti-Doping Agency has no plans changing the Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) system, which grants certain groups of athletes the legal right to use banned performance enhancing substances.

"The Therapeutic-Use Exemption  program is a rigorous and necessary part of elite sport; which has overwhelming acceptance from athletes, physicians and all anti-doping stakeholders," Reedie said.

"TUEs are only granted by Anti-Doping Organizations (ADOs) - Ifs (International Federations), NADOs (National Anti-Doping Organizations) and Major Event Organizers (MEOs) - following a robust review process that is defined in the ISTUE; and, evaluation by three physicians specialized in sports medicine and/or other relevant specialties," Reedie stated.

"Do not forget, that four strict criteria have to be met for a TUE to be granted, and; further, a TUE provides a limited exemption to use a particular prohibited substance or method at a prescribed dosage, frequency, route of administration and duration," the head of the global anti-doping body added.

Last September, an anonymous group of hackers came up with information on their website about hacking personal medical histories of athletes from the United States and the drugs they were prescribed in recent years, which were on WADA’s restricted list.

They group announced the hacking of the database of ADAMS and leaked documents proving that WADA found an official loophole to sanction the use of banned performance enhancing drugs under the TUE system and it was extensively used by US legendary tennis stars Serena and Venus Williams, US four-time Olympic Champion in gymnastics Simone Biles, as well as North American women’s basketball player Elena Dolle Donne.

Budget increase

WADA seeks a significant budget increase in 2018 due to its mounting efforts in the fight against the abuse of performance enhancing drugs in sports, Reedie said.

"It has been widely accepted that WADA, and the global Anti-Doping Program, is not adequately funded to fulfill its mandate with its annual budget of approximately $27 Million US," he said.

"It is clear that, in order to advance the recommendations that were endorsed by the Agency’s Foundation Board in November 2016, a significant increase in funding would be required," he said. "WADA Management is currently working with WADA’s Finance Committee to develop a draft 2018 budget that will take into consideration the new strategic activities that WADA will undertake under its expanded role."

According to WADA’s statement in October 2016, a total sum of $2.5 million was spent to finance the work of the Independent Commission under the chairmanship of Richard McLaren.