Publicly revealed Russian cyber-attacks and Russia’s reinstatement by WADA

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The Russian national team during the parade of athletes and national delegations at the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympic Winter Games (Russian Government)

Is there a connection?

During her press-conference on October 4, 2018, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova connected statements of a number of countries, including Canada, exposing previous Russian cyber-attacks, with a recent World Anti-Doping Agency’s decision to reinstate Russia.

Maria Zakharova accuses the UK of supporting the United States “with a flurry of fabricated news, accusations and statements at all levels” against Russia. By “all” of these, she means the 2016 hacks of WADA, reportedly orchestrated by the Russian military intelligence (former GRU). However, the spokeswoman specifies that this “anti-Russian campaign” was launched right after the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was declared compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code. At the same time, Maria Zakharova does not admit that “a state-sponsored doping system” is maintained in the country. On the contrary, she claims that “the struggle for pure sport amounts to nothing more than unfair competition,” using “relaxing restrictions” for the two US athletes – Jonathan Jones and Will Claye – as an example.

On September 20, 2018, RUSADA reinstatement was confirmed by WADA as a result of the Executive Committee voting in favour by the great majority. Out of a dozen members of the Committee, only two voted against and one abstained. In order to meet compliance standards, Russia is additionally subject to a couple of post-reinstatement conditions. Thus, WADA officials should receive athletes’ samples from RUSADA Laboratory in Moscow no later than December 31, 2018, to keep the given status of the Russian Agency. Meanwhile, with a conflict around WADA, seen as a body which initiated a compromise and a substitution of the Roadmap with Russia, having kindled on the eve of the Executive Committee meeting, athletes’ group from various countries continue to strongly vocalize their dissatisfaction. In particular, AthletesCANCanadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport issued their own statements, expressing their disappointment with the WADA announcement, as two out of 31 Roadmap Conditions to claim RUSADA reinstatement have not been satisfied yet. The Centre for Ethics in Sport, a Canadian anti-doping agency which is also believed to be targeted by GRU, stands for WADA reform. In order to calm the conflict down, Sir Craig Reedie, WADA President, wrote an open letter on September 23, 2018, providing some rationale behind the decision to reinstate Russia. But general skepticism and criticism of WADA actions and leadership remain in place.

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