World Anti-Doping Agency Athlete Committee Chairperson speaks out about ‘bullying’ and ‘belittling’ of athlete voice against Russia’s re-instatement

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The chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (Wada) Athlete Committee says some of the organisation’s most senior officials tried to “bully” her over her opposition to Russian reinstatement.

The Canadian former Olympic cross-country skiing champion resigned from a Wada panel last month in protest at its highly controversial recommendation to end the suspension of Russia from international competition after a state-sponsored doping scandal. In her first interview since stepping down, Scott said the treatment she faced was “indicative of a general attitude of dismissal and belittling of the athlete voice”.

Beckie Scott told the BBC she was “treated with disrespect” at a recent meeting and faced “inappropriate” comments and gestures from some members of Wada’s executive committee.

Wada’s all-important 12-person executive committee then held a meeting in the Seychelles to formally approve Russia’s reinstatement. It was there, Scott claims, as she made a presentation, that she faced “upsetting” comments by some of the members representing the Olympic movement “definitely designed to denigrate, to belittle… and to bully”.

“I felt an intense amount of pressure going into that meeting. There was laughter when I read out the list of athlete committees who were confronting the decision [over Russia],” she said.

“At the time it was upsetting, and on reflection it’s a tactic, a manoeuvre and born out of a long-standing belief that athletes don’t have to be part of this conversation.” Scott says she was “disappointed” neither Wada’s president Sir Craig Reedie or director-general Olivier Niggli stepped in at the time.

“There was no confrontation or challenging of that behaviour at the time it took place,” she said. “I think it’s indicative of the leadership of Wada’s alignment with the Olympic movement.”

In a statement, Wada admitted “tensions were running high” at last month’s meeting, and that the strong views on both sides of the debate “do affect the tone and atmosphere” but “the athletes’ voice was clearly heard”.

It said Scott’s concerns “were being taken seriously”.

BBC

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