Richard Pound

Lynch mobs are just that - unruly gangs having a single objective, murdering someone without any due process of justice.

Much of the response to Russia's failure to provide access to the former Moscow Laboratory data by the deadline (31 December 2018) imposed by the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Executive Committee in September 2018 has all the elements of a lynch mob. 

Many of those making up the mob know or should know that they are out of line.  What is their real end-game? 

Many others are not familiar enough with the issues to have such strident views and still more have not bothered to inform themselves.

To recap the situation, in September 2018, WADA's ExCo set two deadlines for Russia to provide access to the former Moscow laboratory and related samples.  

Access had been denied on the alleged basis that a criminal investigation was pending and that the authorities did not want to compromise the investigation. 

An agreement was reached for Russia to provide the data by 31 December 2018 and to do any requested analysis by 30 June 2019.  On the basis of those undertakings, WADA's ExCo lifted, by a clear majority of the Olympic Movement and Government members, the outstanding declaration of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's (RUSADA) non-compliance.

That decision caused dissatisfaction in many quarters and was incorrectly characterised as prematurely welcoming Russia back to the international sport community.  It was nothing of the sort.  

WADA has no power to sanction any organisation – it can only declare an organisation to be non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Only sport organisations such as the International Olympic Committee, International Federations and National Olympic Committees have the power to suspend or expel sports or athletes.  

WADA had no such power until the new International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories (ISCCS), which took effect in April 2018, gave it some. To date, despite the evidence of doping in Russia, only the International Association of Athletics Federations and the International Paralympic Committee - and to a certain extent the International Weightlifting Federation - have exercised their powers.  

The IOC imposed a brief period of sanction against the Russian Olympic Committee during the Pyeongchang Winter Games in 2018 but lifted it immediately after.

The reinstatement of RUSADA has prompted widespread debate ©Getty Images
The reinstatement of RUSADA has prompted widespread debate ©Getty Images

Dates were set in October 2018 for the WADA Compliance Review Committee (CRC) to meet on 14 and 15 January 2019. Had the access and data been provided, discussion would have centered on how to assure its completeness and validity. 

In the present circumstances, however, the discussion will now centre on what recommendation should be given to the WADA Executive Committee regarding RUSADA code compliance.  

The applicable process is contained in the ISCCS. This process requires WADA to give RUSADA a fair opportunity to provide submissions to the CRC. If the CRC recommendation is that the WADA ExCo assert RUSADA to be non-compliant and the ExCo agrees, WADA must notify RUSADA accordingly.

If RUSADA disagrees with the ExCo's assertion of non-compliance, the matter will then be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for a final decision.

This process is well-known to the entire anti-doping community. It is disturbing to see otherwise responsible and sophisticated organisations urge that the process be completely ignored and incite others to adopt a similar view.  

I come from a country - Canada - that has a strong tradition of respect for the rule of law. That tradition is the direct opposite of mob rule. 

I think more attention needs to be focused on those supporting the mob rule and possible reasons for their conduct. The real end-game here should be to obtain the requested data, to review it for evidence of possible doping cases that need to be pursued and to bring an end to a particularly sordid chapter of Russian conduct.  

It should also be a message that the rules apply to all countries. 

No alternatives to a robust WADA have been proposed. In only 20 years of existence, WADA has significantly raised the standards of the global fight against doping in sport. 

Efforts to discredit and destroy WADA will not help the fight against doping in sport and the protection of clean athletes, despite the athlete-centered rhetoric. They will lead to the anarchy that existed before WADA was created.

Perhaps the real agenda is that those who would destroy WADA do not want a robust and independent agency leading this fight for sporting integrity, unless they can insert themselves into positions of power. 

Think about it…