This Is What Clean Athletes Want From WADA

This Is What Clean Athletes Want From WADA

Phoebe Wright explains why athletes support the proposed Copenhagen Reforms to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Dec 8, 2016 by Phoebe Wright
This Is What Clean Athletes Want From WADA
WADA has no teeth.

The head guy at WADA is Craig Reedie. He is also a member of the IOC*. The IOC benefits from positive athlete press, while WADA catches cheaters, resulting in negative athlete press. This Craig Reedie guy is making decisions for both organizations. Do you see a problem with this? Me too. So do most of my fellow athletes in USATF's Athletes Advisory Committee.

This past week at the USATF annual convention, USADA CEO Travis Tygart came to talk to us athletes about the current doping scandals. With a continuous stream of evidence that indicates a state of corruption that puts Lance Armstrong or Fifa to shame, I was thrilled to see Travis as fired up as we were. He explained the current situation from USADA's point of view:

1. Doping tests work*
2. *They only work if the system is not corrupt.
3. The system is corrupt.
4. It is corrupt because conflicts of interest are allowed under current WADA law. WADA has no teeth--they are a gummy geriatric figurehead that no one takes seriously. They can't issue sanctions against athletes or other anti-doping agencies--only the IOC or IAAF can.
5. The solution?

The board of WADA must be independent, meaning the current Craig Reedie situation has to be fixed.

WADA needs the authority to sanction. As it stands now, WADA's only power is to tsk-tsk at National Anti-Doping Agencies. WADA points out the corruption and gives the information to the IOC or the IAAF, who apparently wipe their butt with the news.

At the end of the anger-inducing talk with Travis, Lauren Fleshman asked, "Well, what can we do?" Travis quickly and optimistically answered, "Athletes have power!" The National Anti-doping Agencies (NADOs) got together in August of 2016 and drafted a potential solution to the current RUSADA-turned-mafia problem. It is the Copenhagen Reform.

You can find the full text at that link, but the heart of the Copenhagen proposal is its recommendation that "Officers, directors, employees and all decision‐makers of anti‐doping organizations should not simultaneously hold a board or officer position or other policy-making position in any [international federation] or major event organization." (The document specifically says that the IOC, which puts on the Olympics, counts as a "major event organization.")

WADA has been slow to implement it, probably because the President of WADA would have to step down if he gave it the go-ahead. Travis urged athletes to put the pressure on WADA to adopt the Copenhagen Reform. Athletes said, "Done." The Athletes' Advisory Council drafted a petition for the first step; if you would like to sign it, do so here.

*​Correction: This article originally stated that Reedie is an IOC board member. He was an IOC executive board member until the end of the Olympics. After the Olympics, his term as a board member expired; he is now a regular member of the IOC.