Olympics

WADA president turns criticism to American sports leagues

Facing increased criticism over Russia's reinstatement, World Anti-Doping Agency president Craig Reedie responded to one of his harshest detractors by pointing out that the major American sports leagues routinely ignore international guidelines.

Craig Reedie says he has tried to persuade NFL to be subject to the WADA code

World Anti Doping Agency president Craig Reedie said he has tried to persuade NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to get football subject to the WADA code. (Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

Facing increased criticism over Russia's reinstatement, World Anti-Doping Agency president Craig Reedie responded to one of his harshest detractors by pointing out that the major American sports leagues routinely ignore international guidelines.

Reedie, speaking in an interview with The Associated Press on Thursday at a WADA event, again defended the plan to rehabilitate Russia following a three-year ban for corrupting sporting events, including the 2014 Sochi Olympics, by covering up doping.

Critics, including U.S. Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart, have said Reedie's objectivity has been compromised because he is also a member of the International Olympic Committee and that he should leave one of the positions.

"He should be aware that the rest of the world is asking questions about why he spends quite so much time criticizing the organization who is actually doing almost everything he wants done as opposed to looking after his own backyard," Reedie said.

"They have their own rules," Reedie added. "They have a completely different system of agreement on how the sport is conducted. I just think I would like USADA or somebody in the United States ... to go and speak to the players' unions and suggest to them that the whole development of clean sport would set a very good example if that could be done in the United States."

Reedie said he has tried to persuade NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to get football subject to the WADA code.

Rehabilitation instead of sanctioning

"The league is actually answerable to the owners," Reedie said of the teams. "There is a general belief in the United States that instead of sanctioning maybe you should try the rehabilitation you know as a principle. I don't think that's necessarily wrong. But harmonization with the rest of the world is difficult if that's your priority."

Reedie was speaking a day after an event in Washington where Olympic athletes joined the acting White House drug czar and anti-doping officials from seven other countries in calling on the WADA to reform its governance.

"The White House doesn't host a meeting, unprecedented and historic with all these athletes, all these governments, all these NADOs [National Anti-Doping Agencies] if it wasn't a crisis," said Tygart in an interview with CBC immediately after the Washington meeting on Wednesday. "That's the dire state it [WADA] is in," adding, "the group of reformers is growing by the moment."

Canadian Beckie Scott, chair of the WADA's athlete committee, was at the Washington meeting and felt the talks were productive.

''Today saw an exceptional assembly of leading figures in the anti-doping movement — global athletes, national anti-doping leaders, and government ministers — convene at the White House to discuss the current state of affairs, and, more importantly, the way forward," Scott told CBC News.

"The discussions and outcomes reflect a sincere desire to see a robust, accountable and strengthened anti-doping system that athletes can rely on to protect them and their right to a level playing field. I was honoured to have been a part of it."

Reedie has another year to go in his second three-year term as WADA president. His tenure began in 2013.

The WADA presidency rotates between representatives of governments and sporting bodies. The agency gets half of its funding from governments around the world and the other half from the Olympic movement.

Despite WADA investigators finding that a state-sponsored doping program was run from Moscow, the Russians haven't had to accept the full findings before being readmitted to the anti-doping agency, which allows them to test athletes again.

When Russia was suspended, international sports federations were unable to schedule events in the country. But on Thursday, the amateur boxing association chose Russia to host the 2019 women's world championships — the country's first worlds event since the national anti-doping agency was reinstated in September.

The whole saga, Reedie said, has taken a toll on his home life and he added that he did not enjoy reading newspaper articles calling for his resignation.

"I don't think," Reedie said, "the world gets better by me not being there."

With files from CBC News

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