WADA overwhelmed by Russia scandal: Reedie

Karolos Grohmann

Outgoing World Anti-Doping Agency president Craig Reedie says the scale and size of the 2015 Russian doping scandal overwhelmed his organisation.

Speaking at the World Conference on doping in sport in Poland on Tuesday, Reedie said the affair that emerged ahead of the 2016 Rio Olympics and saw the involvement of a vast number of athletes, coaches and officials was the biggest challenge WADA faced in its 20-year existence.

"The worst case of system failure in my time as president of WADA or in the entire time of the anti-doping movement is Russia," Reedie told the conference.

He said the level of cheating was unprecedented, leaving WADA under mounting pressure to work for all clean athletes as the Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) was declared non-compliant.

"What it (scandal) taught us when it erupted was that we were not equipped to deal with such a large-scale program," Reedie said.

RUSADA was suspended after the 2015 WADA report found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russian sport and the country was barred from the Rio Games the following year.

All Russian athletes also competed as independents at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

RUSADA's suspension was lifted in September 2018 amid strong criticism as WADA gradually got access to key Russian athletes' data from the Russian lab.

But in September WADA said it had again opened compliance proceedings against RUSADA after finding inconsistencies in the vast bank of historical testing data finally handed over in January.

That means RUSADA are again at risk of being declared non-compliant and thus putting Russia's participation at the Tokyo Olympics next year at risk.

Reedie did not say when a decision on this matter will be taken.

Reedie will be replaced by Poland's sports minister Witold Banka in January.