An Open Letter to Athletes and Athlete Groups: WADA Leadership is not fit for purpose

24 September 2019:

Dear Athletes,

Global Athlete calls on WADA’s President, Sir Craig Reedie, WADA’s Director General, Olivier Niggli and WADA’s Compliance Committee Chair, Jonathon Taylor to immediately resign from their positions.

In September 2018 athletes of the world were vocal, clearly stating “No u-turn WADA” when deciding whether to allow Russia back before fulfilling criteria in the Russian RoadMap. The Athletes’ voices were cast aside by these leaders as uneducated and misinformed. Instead of listening to the Athletes, WADA allowed Russia back without accepting the McLaren report findings; a report commissioned by WADA that exposed institutionalized doping in Russia. Russia was allowed back before providing the LIMS data and before WADA validated the authenticity of LIMS data. Instead, at the 2018 September WADA Executive Committee meeting they reinstated Russia based on promises that they would provide the LIMS data by the end of 2018. WADA tried to retrieve the data in December 2018 and were turned away by Russian authorities. WADA then went back to Russia in January 2019 and retrieved the data. WADA claimed victory and said it was in the best interest of clean sport. In its 2018 annual report, WADA said “2018 was breakthrough year in Russia anti-doping crisis”. None of this is true. WADA caved to the pressure of Russia and the International Olympic Committee and now, as feared by athletes, Russia was not playing by the rules. Russia manipulated the LIMS data and WADA itself. Who has and is still suffering because of all of this - the Athletes! 

We are pleased that a non compliance process has commenced with RUSADA. However, even if RUSADA is deemed non compliant after the three week response period, we are concerned that, given the Roadmap was decoupled in September 2018, RUSADA will appeal this decision to CAS and win the appeal citing that they have no responsibly for the LIMS data. Furthermore, we are deeply concerned that International Federations will not actively pursue cases due to the uncertainty of the LIMS data. For too long, procedures and norms have been used as delay tactics and an excuse for inaction. Self-governance and a lack of independence have led to rules and bylaws that allow conflicted actors to continually undermine the global anti-doping system without consequence.

The leadership at WADA has failed to protect clean athletes, failed to stop the continued corruption of the Olympic movement, failed to take decisive action to address systematic failures, failed to communicate with the athlete community, and failed to provide a credible path forward. The leadership is not fit for purpose. Therefore, we call for their immediate resignation or the termination of their contacts. The future of sport depends on it.

Kind regards,

Rob Koehler,
Director General

On behalf of the Global Athlete Start-Up Group

Akwasi Frimpong
Olympic Bobsliegh and Skelton Athlete

Noah Hoffman
Olympic Cross-Country Skier
United States of America

Ali Jawad
Olympic Para Powerlifter
United Kingdom

Caradh O’Donovan
World Champion Kick Boxer and Karate

Callum Skinner
Olympic Cyclist
United Kingdom

Rachael Sporn
Olympic Basketball

Media ReleaseSam Doherty