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Anti-Doping Organizations Frustrated By Decision Of Bach To Sidestep Meeting

The International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has sidestepped a request by twenty-four national anti-doping organizations for discussing the problems in the global anti-doping system.

The 24 national anti-doping organizations, including the UK Anti-Doping Agency and the US Anti-Doping Agency, later decided to write a letter to Bach to express their disappointment. The organizations first made a contact with Bach in mid-November and the IOC President was told that there was an "urgent need" for a face-to-face meeting so that ways to make the anti-doping system more independent, transparent and better-funded could be discussed.

The German Athletics Federation president, Clemens Prokop, also criticized Bach for his decision not to ban Russia from the Rio Olympics. Prokop remarked Russia would have to be suspended by the IOC until the solution of its doping problem, for the protection of all concerned athletes and fair play if the values of the charter of the IOC are taken seriously. Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, the German Athletics Federation president said comments of the International Olympic Committee President since the summer had not brought any signal that the fight for the recovery of the credibility of the sport had begun.

In a letter to Bach, the national anti-doping organizations wrote National Anti-Doping Organization leaders are disappointed that Bach has not accepted our invitation to meet. The letter further reads the release of Prof Richard McLaren’s landmark second report and the urgent need to adopt meaningful reform to the current anti-doping system only elevates the vital importance of leaders of NADOs and the president of the IOC to have a face-to-face conversation and search for common ground on reforming and strengthening anti-doping.

In response to the mid-November meeting proposal the IOC director-general, Christophe De Kepper, responded to suggest a meeting with him and the medical and scientific director, Dr Richard Budgett, in January. The tepid response of IOC left many of the twenty-four national anti-doping organizations perplexed and increasingly frustrated, especially after the recent release of McLaren report. This report disclosed that more than 1,000 Russians athletes across more than 30 sports were involved in, or benefited from, state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015.

The national anti-doping organizations' leaders to press their case to meet Bach asked De Kepper and Budgett to come to Dublin early next month for discussing their plans to reform all anti-doping organizations, including the World Anti-Doping Agency. The suggestions include ensuring no decision-maker within a sporting body is also involved in an anti-doping agency. If implemented, it would prevent the obvious conflict of interest the WADA president Craig Reedie who has had being a long-serving IOC member. Proposals of the group include increased protection and support for all whistleblowers, including Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov of Russia, by all relevant organizations, including the IOC and Russia. NADOs also want the World Anti-Doping Agency to be strengthened through improved independence, transparency, and increased investment. However, this would possibly not be considered by Bach as it would lose the IOC control of the body.

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Albert Wolfgang
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