Doping: WADA and McLaren in the dock!

By Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw

Three Russian road cyclists – Kirill Sveshnikov, Dmitry Strakhov and Dmitry Sokolov – are suing WADA and Prof Richard McLaren in the Canadian Courts following their exclusion from the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games.

These cyclists were amongst the Russian athletes, who were banned from competing in Rio, as a result the McLaren Report, which was commissioned by WADA and found evidence of systematic doping and manipulation of doping tests by Russian athletes and officials.

They did not appear in the Report, which claimed that 26 positive tests by Russian cyclists had been covered up.

Notwithstanding this, to compete in Rio, Russian athletes had to fulfil certain conditions laid down by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The IOC required the International Sports Federations to decide which athletes could compete in the Games, following “an individual analysis of each athlete’s doping record.”

The three cyclists appealed unsuccessfully against their bans to CAS and are now suing WADA and McLaren in the Canadian Courts to clear their names and are also seeking damages.

The Russian Athletics Federation, Paralympic Committee and Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) continue to be suspended by the IOC, although WADA is due shortly to audit RUSADA.

One of the cyclists, Sveshnikov, is reported as saying:

“Together, WADA and Richard McLaren, prevented us from reaching our life-long goal of participating in the Rio Olympics, the pinnacle of our sport, and we allege that they wrongly associated our names with cheaters and doping. We are asking the court to review all the evidence and vindicate us.”

It will be interesting to see how the Canadian Courts handle these cases and whether they accept or dismiss them, applying the principle of ‘res judicata’. In that case, judicial review of the decision to ban the cyclists from competing in the Games could prove problematic, as the Courts would need to be satisfied that the challenged decision was made by a ‘public’ body.

Prof Dr Ian Blackshaw may be contacted by e-mail at ‘ian.blackshaw@orange.fr’