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Mikhail Bukhanov: “Anti-doping organizations should fight doping problems and not innocent athletes and the whole countries”


RUSADA interim CEO interview

The hearings of the case of WADA v. RUSADA are scheduled for 2 – 5 of November. What do you think about the case?

- According to the CAS applicable rules this arbitration is not going be public. Thus, I can't say much about the details, but I can give my personal opinion on the matter.

First of all, it is obvious we all should respect fundamental and due process rights at all times. Any so-called Signatory Consequences must comply with human rights principles. Unfortunately, we do not observe such an approach in the present case. As a lawyer I should emphasize that these sanctions acutally violate the presumption of innocence and constitute collective punishment. And in my opinion it is impossible to teach somebody by means of collective punishment. An athlete who suffers because of the rule violations of another athlete will feel offended and will never consider this decision fare. And, what I guess is even more important, that would never lead to the understanding of zero doping tolerance and principles of fair play. I suppose all the anti-doping organizations should fight doping problems and not innocent athletes and the whole countries.

- Does it mean you think a further 4 year ban is wrong?

- A national ban is anyway the wrong way to deal with  individual anti-doping rules violations.

- How is RUSADA working throughout this difficult pandemic period?

- First of all, we do everything possible to maintain the existing testing amounts. We were forced to stop testing from the end of March until the middle of June, and we hope the situation will not repeat. It is important first of all or the athletes. In August we have collected 820 samples, in September – 920. We keep all other out activities as well: education programs, planning, analyzing the results, investigations. We work upon all the necessary documents and procedures regarding the new Anti-doping Code.

- Does RUSADA work closely with WADA and international partners?

Of course. We are have close communication with WADA on our day to day work: planing, testing, arranging the procedures for the election of new agency management. We work closely with international testing organizations in order to help them to complete their tasks during this pandemic period. Not so long ago we have participated in the iNADO online-conference. Among other topics we discussed sport ethics. Actually the Anti-doping Code is not only about violations and punishments, it fixes very important things, such as ethics, fair play, honesty. Anti-doping organizations deal with young athletes as well. And for young athletes the understanding of what is zero doping tolerance and adherence to clean sport is fundamental. It will lead to significant changes in the ambient of clean sport. But it all will work only if the young athletes truly believe in fair competition. And here we're back to question #1. 

Are you of the opinion that the foreign media are covering Russia and doping unfairly?

- I believe that doping is a common problem for the entire sports community. And it can only be solved by joint efforts. I do not consider it possible to stick labels on this issue and rely on stereotypes without facts and evidences. An anti-doping rule violation is always individual and can only be viewed in this way.