LONDON/MONTREAL: The chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s athlete committee has told the BBC that some of the organisation’s most senior officials tried to “bully” her over her opposition to Russian reinstatement.
Beckie Scott told the broadcaster she was “treated with disrespect” at a recent meeting of the [Russia] compliance review committee and had faced “inappropriate” comments and gestures from some members of WADA’s executive committee.
The Canadian former Olympic cross-country skiing champion resigned from the WADA compliance panel last month in protest at its controversial recommendation to end the suspension of Russia from international competition after a state-sponsored doping scandal.
The BBC reported Scott, in her first interview since stepping down, as saying the treatment she had faced was “indicative of a general attitude of dismissal and belittling of the athlete voice”.
Scott, who is a former International Olympic Committee member and one of the most high-profile athletes in the anti-doping movement, says she resigned because she “fundamentally disagreed” with her colleagues on the CRC.
She said: “I felt it was a compromise. I don’t think it was acceptable to clean athletes, especially in light of the affront to clean sport that had taken place.
“It was an altering of a ‘roadmap’ that was established by WADA in order to regain compliance and it was basically a reversal of the conditions, so compliance was established before conditions had been met.
“I think from an athletes’ perspective that is such an affront because no-one is altering rules and regulations to ensure athletes reach their goals or achieve their results.”
WADA’s 12-person executive committee decided at a meeting in the Seychelles to formally approve Russia’s reinstatement.
It was there, Scott claims, as she made a presentation, that she faced “upsetting” comments by some of the members representing the Olympic movement “definitely designed to denigrate, to belittle… and to bully”.
She added: “I felt an intense amount of pressure going into that meeting. There was laughter when I read out the list of athlete committees who were confronting the decision [over Russia].
“At the time it was upsetting, and on reflection it’s a tactic, a manoeuvre and born out of a long-standing belief that athletes don’t have to be part of this conversation.”
Scott says she was “disappointed” neither WADA president Sir Craig Reedie or director-general Olivier Niggli stepped in at the time.
She said: “There was no confrontation or challenging of that behaviour at the time it took place. I think it’s indicative of the leadership of Wada’s alignment with the Olympic movement.”
In a statement, WADA said “tensions were running high” at last month’s meeting, and that the strong views on both sides of the debate “do affect the tone and atmosphere” but “the athletes’ voice was clearly heard”.
It said Scott’s concerns “were being taken seriously”.