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  • Whistleblower joins protest over Russia doping decision

, FILE - In this May 24, 2016 file photo employees work in Russia's national drug-testing laboratory in Moscow. Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the whistleblower who exposed Russia’s doping corruption at the Sochi Olympics added to a chorus of protest over the possible reinstatement of the country’s anti-doping agency. In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Grigory Rodchenkov portrayed the World Anti-Doping Agency’s shifting of its requirements to end RUSADA’s suspension as a result of Russia’s unwillingness to accept findings from investigator Richard McLaren, who detailed a government-sponsored doping program designed to win medals. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

18 of September 2018 21:14:53

The whistleblower who exposed Russia's doping corruption at the Sochi Olympics added to a chorus of protest Tuesday over the possible reinstatement of the country's anti-doping agency.

In a statement provided to The Associated Press, Grigory Rodchenkov portrayed the World Anti-Doping Agency's shifting of its requirements to end RUSADA's suspension as a result of Russia's unwillingness to accept findings from investigator Richard McLaren, who detailed a government-sponsored doping program designed to win medals.

WADA is now accepting Russia's willingness to agree with a report commissioned by the IOC that doesn't focus as heavily on the government's role in the cheating.

"Russia continuously denies McLaren's findings for the pure purpose of protecting their top-level apparatchiks who destroyed the Olympic Games in Sochi," Rodchenkov said. "Russian political and sport bosses are there only to save themselves, and in doing so, they betray Russian athletes and sports lovers, and destroy the future of Russian sport."

Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow anti-doping lab, was one of dozens to speak out two days before the WADA executive committee meets in Seychelles to decide whether to reinstate RUSADA after a nearly three-year suspension. The decision comes after WADA's compliance review committee surprisingly recommended reinstatement last week.

Among those speaking out is WADA vice president Linda Helleland, who is a candidate to replace Craig Reedie as president when his term expires next year. Helleland, of Norway, said she would not vote for reinstatement.

"If you choose to reinstate Russia, you defy the very wish of the Athletes' Committees around the world, who have very clearly stated that they will not accept a reinstatement now," Helleland said. "This moment will forever define the credibility of WADA as the independent and strong front runner for clean sport. I am afraid that by opting for the easiest way out, it will ultimately hurt WADA in the future."

Members of the athlete committees from WADA and the U.S. Olympic Committee , along with a group of international anti-doping leaders and a key supporter of Rodchenkov's, put out statements urging WADA's executive committee not to reinstate RUSADA.

Jim Swartz, a Rodchenkov backer who is founder of clean-sports foundation FairSport, said "WADA has undermined its own moral and regulatory authority" by proposing a weakened version of the roadmap to bring RUSADA back into compliance.

The WADA athletes' group is led by Beckie Scott, who resigned from her position on WADA's compliance review committee after its recommendation.

"As athletes, we have to follow the rules every single day," that group's statement read, "and we expect the same from all anti-doping organizations and stakeholders."

More than three dozen U.S. athletes wrote a letter to Reedie that said, in part: "By acting on promises, and not proven compliance, WADA's decision on reinstating RUSADA would weaken the increasingly delicate integrity of international sport."

Under WADA's revamped road map, Russia would not hand over data and samples that could corroborate positive tests until a still-unspecified date that would come after RUSADA's reinstatement. The original road map called for the information to be transferred before reinstatement. WADA's review committee has urged the executive committee to set a date for the transfer before declaring RUSADA compliant.

The USOC's new CEO, Sarah Hirshland, said any agreement that falls short of giving athletes security that they're on a level playing field "will not only be a huge disappointment to the USOC and American athletes, but to the entire Olympic and Paralympic movements."

WADA has defended its decision , saying nuanced changes in the requirements were appropriate to avoid squandering the significant progress RUSADA has made over the past three years.

"That outcome was never going to be achieved without small degrees of movement on both sides," WADA said in a statement over the weekend.

But anti-doping leaders from 13 countries, including the United States, Britain, Canada and Poland, joined the growing chorus of those who were dissatisfied with WADA's proposal.

"The Roadmap has changed," their statement said. "This is quite simply unacceptable and will not restore confidence in global sport at a time when athletes and sports fans need it most."

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports


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