Shayna Jack still a ‘doped athlete’ despite CAS ruling, says former WADA president Dick Pound
Founding president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Dick Pound, says Australian swimmer Shayna Jack remains a “doped athlete” despite her four-year suspension being halved to two.
- Former WADA president Dick Pound says Shayna Jack “is still guilty” despite her sentence being reduced
- Meanwhile the US is threatening to withdraw its funding to WADA as it pursues its own new anti-doping policy
- Pound says he supports parts of the US’s plan but thinks it derail the fight to bring officials to justice
Jack is hoping to get permission to return to training while she sees out her two-year ban from competitive swimming.
However, there is still a possibility that a WADA appeal could see her initial four-year ban reinstated.
For the next three weeks Jack’s future remains in limbo while WADA and Sport Integrity Australia decide whether to appeal the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) decision this week that reduced her four-year ban to two after she tested positive to Ligandrol in 2019.
Ligandrol is one of many drugs in a category known as SARMs (Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators) that produce anabolic effects such as muscle mass and strength without the usual side effects of steroids.
But despite the CAS finding Jack had not ingested the substance intentionally, IOC member and WADA executive board member Pound said she was still guilty of doping.
“Your athlete was not innocent — it was a doped athlete, it was a doping offence,” Pound said.
“The only argument was what was the length of the sanction? She got that reduced because the CAS panel determined there was no significant fault.
“I don’t know what evidence they heard to overturn the four-year part, as opposed to two years, but that’s what courts are for … the sentence of the guilty person is reduced, but the person is still guilty.
Travis Tygart, chief executive of American anti-doping agency USADA, said there had been a “rash of such cases” around the world, including 26 in the United States where athletes have tested positive to “miniscule levels” of banned substances.
He said the system around such cases needed to change.
“To treat athletes in those circumstances just the same as you would an intentional cheat, particularly if there is no performance enhancing by a single positive test at those low levels, it is simply a system that can’t sustain itself,” Tygart said.
“I am very confident ASADA [now Sport Integrity Australia] did everything they were supposed to do because the rules require that you move forward with those types of cases, but the rules are what needs to change.”
New US policy puts WADA’s future in jeopardy
WADA’s future is currently up in the air, as its biggest national donor, the US, threatens to withdraw its annual funding of US$2.7 million ($3.7 million). WADA, in return, is threatening “consequences” of its own.
The stalemate hinges on the Rodchenkov Act, which would criminalise acts of doping fraud and enable the US Government to issue jail terms of up to 10 years, or hand out multi-million dollar fines, to corrupt officials.
The Act has passed both houses of US Congress and is now one of the last items for outgoing President Donald Trump to address, requiring his signature before being written into law.
The bill is named after Grigory Rodchenkov, the Russian mastermind behind the Sochi 2014 Olympic games “sample swap” program, where dirty urine samples were passed through a hole in the wall and replaced with clean samples.
Rodchenkov fled to the US, became a whistle-blower, and now lives in a witness protection program. He was also the central character in a documentary that won an Academy Award.
Similar to the United States Department of Justice campaign against corrupt FIFA officials, where some were jailed and hundreds of millions of dollars in fines and laundered money was collected from others, the Americans are now turning their eyes to sports officials involved in doping schemes.
Tygart told The Ticket the revised WADA code that comes into effect from January 1, 2021 was expected to include officials as part of an athlete’s entourage that could be prosecuted for their role in any doping programs or cover-ups.
He cited former sports presidents such as Lamine Diack of World Athletics and Tamas Ajan of the International Weightlifting Federation, who allegedly took money to turn a blind eye to drug cheats who continued to compete.
“WADA and the IOC had a chance to change that gap in the revisions of the WADA Code … and they expressly decided not to do that, although they led the world to believe for two years that they were going to change it,” he said.
“Frankly, the irony and the inconsistency in hammering sometimes-innocent athletes and yet not allowing those that are in official positions to be held accountable if they perpetuate gross fraud is just something that countries can’t tolerate.
“It’s exactly why the US Government in a bipartisan way said ‘we’re going to pass this all and hopefully hold these folks accountable going forward’.
Pound says there is a “weakness in the system” that sees guilty officials avoid punishment, referring particularly to Russia’s doping program.
“Public authorities under the UNESCO convention are faced with clear evidence there was a state-sponsored doping system implemented by one of their fellow states, and they have not been able to mobilise a meaningful response because of conflicts of interest between various governments,” he said.
“If you’re sitting in Poland and you’re faced with the Russian situation, if you do what you’re supposed to do, does your country suddenly run out of natural gas in the middle of winter?
“I think parts of what [the US] is doing is great — WADA welcomes the extra muscle being applied by governments in the fight against doping in sport — but we see the picture from 360 degrees as opposed to the narrow arc of a particular country.
“You could end up doing more damage to the overall fight than the goodwill exercised … in trying to go after the off-stage bad guys.”
The future of anti-doping has several geopolitical implications looming, but in the meantime, there are those at ground zero caught in a no-win system.