Rio Olympics 2016: One of the lead investigators into the Russian doping crisis accused the World Anti-Doping Agency of contributing to the chaos ahead of the Olympics by not pushing for a probe into the country’s entire sports system at an earlier date.
Jack Robertson, the chief investigator for the probe of Russia’s track team, told Pro Publica that WADA president Craig Reedie “had to be literally pressured into every investigation.”
Reedie responded by telling The Associated Press that Robertson, who left WADA under pressure in January, is “clearly a disaffected former employee.”
“I deny categorically that I delayed, or in any way hindered the investigations into Russia,” Reedie said.
Calls to move the probe beyond Russia’s track team started as early as last November, when WADA athletes’ commission chair Beckie Scott urged expansion of the investigation at a WADA board meeting. Reedie initially dismissed it, then later in the day said he would take it under consideration.
But not until a New York Times story in May revealed the Russian government’s role in tampering with urine samples at the Sochi Olympics did WADA authorize the investigation.
Initial results from that probe, authored by Richard McLaren, were released two weeks ago. They detailed proof of a state-sponsored system that helped Russians avoid positive tests. WADA recommended Russia’s exclusion from the Olympics, but the International Olympic Committee didn’t go along. The IOC asked individual sports federations to review doping histories of Russian athletes, and less than 24 hours before the opening ceremony, the IOC was finalizing the list of eligible Russian athletes.
Whistleblowers Vitaly and Yulia Stepanov said they contacted WADA for three years prior to the investigation. With no action being taken, Robertson said he finally told them to go the media. German station ARD ran a documentary based on information from the Stepanovs that led to Robertson’s investigation.
“I knew it would take (documentary maker Hajo Seppelt) to do a story so sensational WADA would have no choice but to commit the resources,” Robertson said.