WADA’s incoming director general said on Thursday he’d consider asking the International Olympic Committee to retest samples of Russian athletes from the Sochi Games, following allegations of systemic doping in that country.
Olivier Niggli said the World Anti-Doping Agency would investigate allegations made by the former director of Russia’s anti-doping lab in the New York Times, and could ask the IOC to retest samples if it deems the information useful.
“If it’s meaningful and if we agree with scientists that there is evidence to get from there, then of course,” he said in an interview following a meeting held by the Montreal-based agency.
While the cost of retesting could limit WADA’s ability to probe frozen athletes’ samples from the 2014 Sochi Olympics, athletes have called for action in the wake of the Russian allegations.
“I think that retesting of samples has to be done in an intelligent and focused manner,” said Beckie Scott, chair of the WADA athletes’ committee and a former Canadian Olympic champion.
“That being said, it could happen. Obviously now, with the report that came out in the NY Times, there is increased pressure and reason to do so.”
Before the Times’s revelations, the IOC told the Associated Press it “would not hesitate” to retest drug samples from the Sochi Winter Games if there is evidence that doping controls were manipulated.
Despite its limited budget, WADA is coming under increased pressure to investigate and expose doping to ensure a level playing field in the run up to the Aug. 5-21 Rio Summer Olympics.
WADA approved plans on Thursday for a program by year’s end to better protect whistleblowers and to recover costs from countries that fail to comply with its drug-testing policies.
“When a country is declared non-compliant we will be asking to recover the costs we had to invest,” said Niggli, who becomes director general in July.
Niggli said WADA would also discuss the future possibility of fining a country’s anti-doping agency if it is deemed non-compliant. Money generated through the fines could be used to improve the agency’s activities.
“Why wouldn’t WADA do that when all financial regulatory bodies, when they go and investigate the companies, they fine (them),” he said. “And they use that money to actually fund their organization and their program.”