WADA Director General, Olivier Niggli © WADA

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is concerned over the 2024 Friendship Games taking place in Russia, WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said during the Foundation Board meeting. "Russia has the intention of potentially organizing a multi-sports event in 2024 that is called the Friendship Games", Niggli said. "This seems to be completely organized outside the framework of sport, to the extent that even the chairman or the president of the organizing committee would be the president of a federation that just lost its recognition from the sports movement".

Mr. Niggli said: "WADA has significant reservations about this from an anti-doping perspective. We have no information about what kind of anti-doping program, if any, will be in place during that event or which body will be implementing such a program given RUSADA is still non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. Under the Code an international event such as this should not be awarded to a country whose National Anti-Doping Organization is non-compliant so in that context, how can athletes have any confidence that they would be competing in a safe and fair environment?”  

"We don't know the detail, […] but we believe it's important for us to draw the attention of both the public authorities here and the sports movement to the concerns we have from an anti-doping perspective," Niggli added. "This event would be organized in a non-compliant country by a non-signatory, therefore not subject to any WADA rules. This would raise concerns in terms of the reliability or the robustness of any anti-doping program that would be put into play there".

"There would be no AIU (Athletics Integrity Unit), there to oversee what's going on, and therefore, we think the athletes would not have any confidence that they would be competing on the level playing field. Furthermore, […] the [WADA] code is very clear that major events should not be granted to countries that are non-compliant. Here we have a country that is non-compliant, that has a second case [….] in the [Court of Arbitration for Sport], and doing that would rather go against or clearly circumvent the principle that we have in the court," he said, adding that WADA is "not sure exactly where this is going lead".

Previously, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) sent a letter to national Olympic Committees, in which it recommended to reject participation in the Friendship Games. On June 22, IOC head Tomas Bach claimed that Russia tries to "organized a politicized sports competition".