PYEONGCHANG – Every effort has been made in the anti-doping fight to create fair competition at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said Thursday.
Sir Craig Reedie told reporters he hoped pre-Games doping controls “will give the athletes comfort they are in a fair and honest competition.”
Some 17,000 samples have been tested in pre-Games controls in the seven winter sports since last April and up to January 31, while around 2,500 blood and urine tests are planned during the Games.
An independent team is in Pyeongchang to observe the effectiveness of the anti-doping regime during the Games.
“Every effort has been made to create a proper playing field for the athletes,” he said.
As the Games began with qualifying events Thursday ahead of Friday's opening ceremony, the International Olympic Committee was waiting on a ruling by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on an appeal by 60 Russians hoping to take part in Pyeongchang as neutrals.
Thirteen more Russians including six athletes appealed to CAS on Thursday, joining 47 whose appeals were already being heard by the tribunal's ad hoc division at the Games.
“If the CAS takes the decision Russian athletes are entitled to take part that decision will have to be handled by those responsible for it,” Reedie said.
The CAS case is part of the fall-out from doping practices in Russia and at the Sochi 2014 Games exposed by WADA's independent investigator Richard McLaren.
The Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA remains suspended as it is still not compliant with the WADA code following the doping scandal.
Russia has failed to fulfil two reinstatement criteria - public recognition of McLaren on systematic doping and lack of access to the doping test samples of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory.
Reedie said he could understand the frustration of athletes with current developments concerning the Russian appeals but said clean athletes should have better protection in view of WADA's strengthened capacity to investigate doping.
“In the whole history of anti-doping, athletes want answers, they want action and they want it now,” he said. “Athletes wanted a proper compliance situation. We now have a set of regulations to cover their back better than we could before.”
RUSADA has meanwhile made “lots of progress on a number of fronts” and hopefully will become compliant in a few months “when the dust settles” after Pyeongchang, Reedie said.
In its anti-doping fight, WADA is hoping to increase its annual budget of 30 million dollars by 50 per cent to 45 million. Half the funding comes from national governments with the rest matched by the IOC.
Anti-doping efforts have not led to any governments refusing WADA funding. “After the last 18 months there is an increased belief in governments they should face up their obligations,” Reedie said.