Cycling anti-doping campaigners call for WADA president to resign after controversies

The Movement for Credible Cycling has raised issue with WADA's enforcement, including Chris Froome's salbutamol case

A call has been made for Sir Craig Reedie to step down as the head of WADA (Picture: Getty Images)
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Cycling’s anti-doping campaigners have called for the president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to step down in the wake of a number of controversies.

The Movement for Credible Cycling (MPCC) raised issue with the way WADA has reacted to numerous incidents, including Chris Froome’s salbutamol case, Operation Puerto and the legality of the painkiller Tramadol.

In an open letter, the MPCC has called on WADA president Sir Craig Reedie to resign.

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WADA has responded, claiming the MPCC letter contains "various inaccuracies" and saying Sir Craig plans to continue until the end of his second term in office next year.

The organisation also highlighted that the MPCC letter was published on the same day Johan Bruyneel was banned from cycling for life.

The MPCC said: “In this letter, [we] highlight the consequences of a situation which hurts the whole world of sport and question the very foundations of the international rules and regulations.

“Thus, MPCC’s general assembly calls for the resignation of WADA’s president, Mr Craig Reedie.”

In 2007, a group of teams concerned that the UCI wasn’t doing enough to fight doping decided to set up an organisation to defend clean cycling – the Mouvement pour un Cyclisme Crédible, or the Movement for Credible Cycling.

The MPCC letter starts by raising concerns about the fact that Tramadol, a synthetic opioid painkiller, is monitored but is still not a banned substance under WADA rules.

This is despite the MPCC calling for the drug to be blacklisted as early as 2014.

According to the MPCC, Tramadol was present in 5.9 per cent of samples taken in cycling in 2015, and 4.4 per cent of samples in 2014.

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The letter says: “The MPCC wishes to see this substance banned in competition for ethic reasons (performance enhancing), but also for the sake of the riders’ safety and health.

“To leave things as they are could endanger the health of our athletes.”

A WADA report published earlier this year revealed the extent of Tramadol use in professional cycling.

The MPCC says in it’s letter that WADA also failed in its handling of the Operation Puerto blood doping scandal in 2006, when hundreds of blood bags linked to athletes were seized in police raids.

The names of many sportspeople involved have still not been revealed more than a decade on.

Next on the MPCC’s list of issues is the Chris Froome salbutamol case, after the Team Sky rider delivered an adverse analytical finding during the 2017 Vuelta a España.

Months of speculation followed the test, with Froome winning the Giro d’Italia in the meantime, before the UCI cleared the Brit of any wrongdoing.

Other riders have been banned for returning adverse analytical findings for the same drug.

The MPCC said: "About Chris Froome’s case and specifically how that was handled by WADA: MPCC lament the way sanctions are not applied equally and procedures are not followed equally, which is devastating for the sport, for WADA itself, and thus is devastating for the confidence which athletes out to have in the world’s anti-doping agency and its independence and integrity.”

Finally, the MPCC raised issue with the reinstating of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which was suspended in 2015 after it was accused of covering up doping.

A spokesperson for WADA said: "WADA confirms that its president, Sir Craig Reedie, fully intends to lead the anti-doping movement until the end of his second term next year.

"That is the extent of his mandate and at that stage he will be happy to pass on the leadership of the organisation to his successor on December 31, 2019, full in the knowledge that it is stronger and more effective now than it has ever been throughout its 20-year existence."

The spokesperson added: "Without going into the details of the various inaccuracies and misinterpretation of the MPCC president’s letter, which we will fully address in a letter to him, we wish to point out the irony that we received this letter on the same day as WADA offered a significant victory to clean cycling through its successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with the support of UCI and USADA, in the cases of Johan Bruyneel, Pedro Celaya and Pepe Marti.

"This case shows once again WADA’s tireless resolve to fight for clean sport in all sports and all countries."

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