Russia Fires Outspoken Chief Of Anti-Doping Agency
By RFE/RL August 29, 2020
The outspoken chief of Russia's Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has been fired, a move that the World Anti-Doping Agency said only reinforced its ongoing concerns about the agency.
Yury Ganus, who headed the agency for three years, has been a fierce critic of Russian sports authorities, saying there is not enough being done to clean sports of performance-enhancing drug use.
The decision to remove Ganus was made "unanimously," the president of Russia's Olympic Committee, Stanislav Pozdnyakov, said a news conference on August 28.
Mikhail Bukhanov, a lawyer with RUSADA, was appointed acting head of the body.
Ganus, 56, was forced from his role after the Russian Olympic body in July published an audit of RUSADA that exposed alleged financial violations.
Ganus denounced his dismissal, calling it a "wrong decision."
"They wanted to make [this decision] and they made it. In terms of the overall goals and all, it's a mistake," he told the Interfax news agency.
Ganus and the RUSADA management say the audit was conducted in secret, ignored important evidence, and bears the "probable signs of deliberate fabrication of false evidence."
Ganus also said Russia's Olympic body could have used the audit to gather confidential information about how the agency investigates doping cases. During Ganus's tenure, RUSADA assisted some high-profile investigations into Russian athletes and sports officials.
Ganus's deputy Margarita Pakhnotskaya resigned earlier this week.
WADA said in a statement issued after Ganus was dismissed that it continues to have doubts about RUSADA's autonomy. The Montreal-based organization said it was "critical" that anti-doping officials "remain safe from interference in their operational decisions and activities."
The organization said it was in contact with RUSADA and other relevant authorities "to get further clarifications on the latest developments" and would provide an update later.
WADA had said in a statement on August 5 that it was "extremely concerned" to learn of the recommendation by RUSADA's supervisory board to Ganus. WADA said the recommendation raised questions about the legal process and the motives behind the recommendation.
Russia has been embroiled in sporting scandals since a 2015 report commissioned by WADA found evidence of mass doping among Russian track and field athletes.
RUSADA was suspended in the wake of the report but was conditionally reinstated in September 2018.
In December 2019, WADA banned Russia for four years from major global sporting events, including the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
That ban came after WADA found Moscow had provided it with doctored laboratory data.
RUSADA has appealed and the case will be heard by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport in November.
With reporting by AFP, AP, Reuters, Interfax, and dpa
Copyright (c) 2020. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
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