Women's marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe has described the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) response to Beckie Scott’s claim she was bullied for campaigning to stop the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) being reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) as "particularly concerning".
In an interview with BBC Sport earlier this month, Scott, a former member of the IOC Athletes' Commission, alleged she was "belittled" and "bullied" for her opposition to RUSADA having its ban lifted.
When RUSADA's reinstatement was approved at a meeting in the Seychelles last month, the Olympic gold medallist resigned her position on WADA's Compliance Review Committee in protest.
Scott, a member of Canada's five kilometres + 5km combined pursuit team that won the Olympic gold medal at Salt Lake City 2002, claimed that when she voiced her opinion at the meeting, she was treated in a way that left her feeling "that there is very little respect, there is very little appreciation and there is very little value" placed on the athlete voice.
The 44-year-old alleged that the inappropriate behaviour came from "members of the Olympic Movement".
The IOC did not initially respond to the allegations, leading to chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, Travis Tygart, to issue a scathing statement on Twitter claiming their silence was a "stunning failure" that showed them to be "desperately out of touch".
They have since sent a statement revealing IOC member Danka Barteková, a Slovakian skeet shooter and Olympic bronze medallist, who joined the IOC Athletes’ Commission in 2012, contacted Scott as soon as she heard the allegations.
But speaking to insidethegames here at SPORTELMonaco, Radcliffe, a former world champion in the marathon, half-marathon and cross-country, claimed that Scott’s claims should have been dealt with much quicker.
"I think the whole thing is very, very damaging for the credibility of the very institutions that are supposed to look after the clean athletes and the clean athletes' rights, and I think it’s always concerning when you’ve got an athlete of the calibre and credibility of Beckie that those claims weren’t reacted to, and acted on and investigated straight away," the Briton said.
"They were serious allegations and they should have been acted on immediately because I think Beckie has a lot of respect among the athlete community for everything that she’s done, for the way that she’s not been afraid to stand up.
"She’s not politically-minded - she is looking after the rights of athletes and I think the same sadly can’t be said for all of the athlete institutions that are out there.
"I think the response of the IOC Athletes' Commission was particularly concerning.
"Having said all of that, I would also like to see at some point the focus taken away from all of the fighting and the fight into doping to actually be looked after, concentrating on improving the testing, improving the intelligence, improving the funding going into all of the testing and moving all of that forward.
"All of this bickering amongst each other doesn’t really help much, so I’d kind of like to see it pro-actively moving forward.
"It shouldn’t have taken this long.
"I don’t think Beckie was trying to delay the process.
"I think she was just voicing concerns.
"They should have been acted on immediately."
The decision to make RUSADA compliant again has been strongly criticised by athletes from across the world.
Russia has been warned, however, that they could have the suspension reimposed if they fail to meet the key criteria of having the ban lifted.
Russian authorities have been told they must provide WADA access to the authentic laboratory information management system (LIMS) data and underlying analytical data of the former Moscow Laboratory by no later than December 31.
Radcliffe went onto describe the IOC as having been "pretty terrible from the beginning" in terms of its reaction to the Russian doping scandal and praised the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for maintaining its ban on the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), which faces an inspection next month.
The IAAF Taskforce, led by Norwegian Rune Andersen, are scheduled to visit Moscow between November 8 and 10 to hold further talks with RusAF officials.
Their report is due to be presented to the IAAF Council meeting in Monte Carlo on December 3 and 4.
It is unlikely, though, that the IAAF will consider lifting their ban on Russia until they have been provided with the LIMS data and the results fully analysed.
"I think that’s what’s been so concerning is that it [the lifting of RUSADA's ban] has clearly been politically influenced and not done in the interests of clean sport," Radcliffe, a member of the IAAF Athletes' Commission, said.
"I was proud of the IAAF for taking the stand that they did and they still have not yet said that they will allow RUSAF back in.
"They have to fulfil their certain criteria.
"They’re sticking to their roadmap and I think that was what was concerning about WADA’s about-turn.
"They kind of change the rules to allow somebody to come back, to allow RUSADA to come back.
"That sets a dangerous precedent because you have other countries that maybe are not quite as bad but they’re not too far away and that threat needs to be a strong threat - if you mess with our rules, you’re not going to play our sport."
Asked whether she thinks the fight against doping in sport is one that it being won, Radcliffe admitted she does not think it ever will be completely but expressed her belief that progress is being made and that there is now more of a willingness from athletes to stand up and make their voices heard.
At the 2001 World Championships, Radcliffe held up a banner declaring "EPO cheats out" after Russia’s Olga Yegorova had tested positive for the banned drug erythropoietin but was allowed to continue competing because the test was not conducted properly.
"Even in 2001, when I held the sign up, there weren’t that many people who were actually prepared to stand up and say something," said Radcliffe.
"Everybody would talk about it behind closed doors or around the dinner table they would moan about it, but nobody would actually stand up and demand it, whereas now we are seeing a lot more athletes saying 'Hey, no, this is enough now, you’ve got to look after clean sport'.
"It needs more of those, it always needs more, but it has to be done in the right way as well.
"It can’t just be, 'Oh, so and so, because they beat me, they must be cheating'.
"You can’t just be accusing people."