One of the big questions that’s come out of the recent spate of reports revealing Russia’s expansive state-run doping program is, “How is the World Anti-Doping Association allowing this stuff to happen?” According to a new report from The New York Times, the answer to that question is that WADA was never meant to do anything useful at all.
The thrust of the Times’ story is that WADA, which is funded by the IOC and various governments, is at best a toothless organization with no investigatory powers run by people with massive conflicts of interest, and at worst a smokescreen designed to create the illusion that the IOC cares about doping while secretly working to maintain the status quo.
The Times runs through countless examples of WADA ignoring evidence of Russia’s state-run doping program—one Russian whistleblower sent them 200 emails, to which WADA only ever replied “message received”—and even hints at the idea that it was accepting bribes from Russia to look the other way:
Still, there did not appear to be an appetite to look deeper into Russia, especially after a new president came on board in 2014. His name was Craig Reedie, a longtime I.O.C. official who had been involved with WADA from the start. When Mr. Reedie took over as head of the agency, things changed, several staffers said.
At the same time, Russia began giving an extra donation to WADA, with no reason earmarked on WADA’s financial statements — an unusual move. In all, in the past three years, Russia has given an extra $1.14 million on top of its annual contribution, which was of $746,000 in 2015. A spokesman for the agency confirmed Russia’s contributions and said countries that choose to make additional donations have never received special treatment.
Even if you assume that WADA was created and is run with good intentions—and considering its president tells the Times “We’re not going to turn to people and say, ‘These are the rules, obey them,’” that’s a big assumption—the Times still presents a damning portrait of an utterly non-functional organization. It has no authority to administer drug tests or conduct investigations, is funded by the very sporting bodies it is supposed to be policing, and is run by members of the IOC, the same people who benefit greatly from the Olympic Games presenting a clean and drug-free image. WADA needs a $28 million budget to do all of this, $2 million of which comes from American taxpayers.