RUSADA chief Yuri Ganus attacked Moscow authorities at WADA conference over manipulated data

Katowice (Poland) (AFP) - Russia’s anti-doping tzar Yuri Ganus on Wednesday blasted the “irresponsible and destructive actions” of Moscow authorities he accuses of doctoring key data handed over to the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Ganus told delegates at WADA’s world conference in Katowice that the anti-doping agency RUSADA he heads had become “a hostage to the crisis” triggered by the falsified information.

In September, WADA ordered Russia to explain “inconsistencies” in some of the thousands of files and samples handed over from its Moscow anti-doping laboratory in January.

Among delegates listening to Ganus’s speech was Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov, who earlier had assured the conference that RUSADA and Russian authorities had met all of WADA’s demands.

The data transfer was a key condition for Russia’s reinstatement by WADA in 2018 after the country was banned from competing in several international competitions over state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015.

WADA’s compliance arm is set to conclude its review of this latest twist in the Russian doping scandal by the end of the month.

Ganus stressed that RUSADA “had nothing to do with the database and its transfer” and that it had been a victim of “forces outside RUSADA”. He urged WADA to apply “wisdom” when imposing any sanctions in order to protect the independence of anti-doping agencies.

To applause, Ganus concluded a rousing address by telling the conference: “No one should use us (RUSADA) for their personal interests… We will protect our independence.”

The United States Anti-Doping Agency hit back later on Wednesday, with its CEO Travis Tygart claiming that Ganus was just saying what his “government wants him to”.

“I think what he is saying is very deliberate and planned by his bosses,” said Tygart. “It’s exactly what the government wants him to say.

“The best defence if the data has been manipulated is to give the appearance that he is independent and he has nothing to do with it.

“He is not independent… I think it’s a game and it’s a well-orchestrated game.”

Tygart suggested the approach could pay off should the case end up at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

“There would be a serious question before CAS whether or not the rules can hold it (RUSADA) responsible for something largely in the control of someone else,” he said.

Outgoing WADA chief Craig Reedie believes the answer is that it cannot.

“An anti-doping agency which cannot use the laboratory of Moscow because it has lost its accreditation is most unlikely to be so involved,” said Reedie.

In an interview with AFP last month, Ganus said he expected Russia to be banned from next year’s Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, blaming unnamed Russian officials for doctoring the data handed over to WADA.

The best-case scenario, in his view, was very limited participation “by certain athletes, by invitation”, as happened at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.