Below is a transcript of a speech Beckie Scott gave Thursday at the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Executive Board meeting Montreal. A Canadian Olympic gold medalist cross-country skier and chair of WADA’s Athlete Committee, Scott urged the agency to use its influence to “to expand and strengthen the investigations and stand up for the protection of clean, legitimate athletes in sport” and “use that influence with respect to Rio and Games beyond that.”
“In what I would call an extraordinary measure and unlike all the meetings prior, there was only one significant outcome presented. It was an open letter renewing the call to expand the investigation into Russian doping. Following the release of the report of the Independent Commission of Russian Athletics last fall, we also took that opportunity to publicly announce our support for the whistleblowers Vitaly and Yuliya Stepanov. This was posted to the WADA website and can still be found there.
You may remember that we originally put this call out in November of last year almost immediately following the report and [there were deep implications] in the utter, complete implausibility of this system [Russia’s doping system] being in place to service only track and field athletes. That the curtain had been pulled back to reveal such corruption and widespread prolific abuse of the rules and laws of sport and nothing was done, was almost incomprehensible to the athlete community.
Indeed, the path of action and follow-up combined with the growing sentiment among the athlete community that there were leaders in sport who just wanted this to go away, led to a barrage of letters and communications to us from athletes around the world asking us — as the voice and representatives of clean athletes — to do more, to ask for more and to please stand up for the rights and protection of clean athletes. We have received communication from athletes from all sports around the world, including the FIS [International Ski Federation], the IBU [International Biathlon Union] , the IBSF [International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation], the USOCAC, the German NOCAC, the Canadian NOCAC, and the British NOCAC, as well as swimmers from Zimbabwe, Australia, curling — I could go on, but I will stop there because all I really want to do is highlight the fact that nationality and sport do not seem to be a significant factor in this movement, as the emotional and growing call from athletes for leaders of sport to expand and strengthen the investigations and stand up for the protection of clean, legitimate athletes in sport…
And so, we persist. We continue to ask that more is done and we maintain that position that the protection of clean athletes and fair sport is at the heart and forefront of all decisions.
In that light, we have four proposals. They are as follows:
- There have to be sanctions for the very serious infraction of non-compliance. This is a task we propose is undertaken by the current CRC [Compliance Review Committee] and we wish that the format is developed with suggestions and a policy is adopted as soon as possible.
- We propose that WADA should have the autonomy and authority to impose immediate sanctions and penalties, in the case of extraordinary revelations and and circumstances, such as Russia. For athletes to have to wait six months or longer to know what is going on as due process as unfold and decisions are made, is too long.
- We fully acknowledge and we fully understand that WADA does not have jurisdiction over the Olympic Games. WADA does have, however, influence. And the clean athletes of the world propose that we use that influence with respect to Rio and Games beyond that, athletes strongly feel that if there cannot be a guarantee that athletes there are professionally clean and not involved in doping activity, then they should not be there.
- Finally, with respect to whistleblowers, we must develop and institute a method to ensure the safety and the confidence, and the care of whistleblowers. They must be encouraged and they must be taken care of. This is imperative.
So the clean athletes of the world demand that more is done. They demand that investigations are initiated and carried out. That athletes, officials, organizations, and even countries are sanctioned accordingly and in a timely manner. The whole anti-doping system requires athlete buy in. It requires athletes to believe it is working. It requires athletes to believe that winning without doping is possible. If we do nothing, if we don’t investigate, lead investigations and not just follow up on television programs, if we don’t sanction, then we lose not only the athletes’ belief in the system, but we lose the belief that winning clean is possible.”