Analysis And Reaction To Part 2 Of The WADA Independent Commission Report: Dick Pound’s Puzzling Endorsement Of Seb Coe, Looking For Heroes And Where Was The “Wow Factor”?

January 14, 2016

On Thursday, the WADA Independent Commission (IC), chaired by Dick Pound and also including Richard McLaren and Gunter Younger, released part two of its investigation into the IAAF, which detailed corruption at the highest levels of the organization. After delivering a summary of the report’s key findings, Pound answered questions from the media in Munich as well those dialing in from overseas.

The report confirmed that former IAAF president Lamine Diack was complicit in a bribery/extortion scheme to cover up positive doping tests and that and he used his power as president to install an informal illegitimate governance structure within the IAAF, inserting his legal adviser Habib Cissé and sons Papa Massata Diack and Khalil Diack into positions of influence.

Paradoxically, while the report stated that “the IAAF Council could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in Athletics and the non-enforcement of applicable anti-doping rules,” Pound staunchly stood by and supported IAAF president Sebastian Coe.

“There’s an enormous amount of reputational recovery that needs to occur here and I can’t think of anyone better than Lord Coe to lead that,” Pound said.

There’s a lot to unpack. You can read the entire 95-page IC report here, but if you don’t have a few hours to wade through it, we’ve summarized some of the key facts and the key findings below. If you don’t even have time for that, we suggest you scroll down and read our 3 key takeaways from the report.

  • It wasn’t just a few bad apples: “the corruption was [e]mbedded in the organization.” The IC’s report made clear that this was not just a Diack problem, but an IAAF problem, and the only way to move on is to accept that fact. “It cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on his own,” the report read. “The IAAF allowed the conduct to occur and must accept its responsibility. Continued denial will simply make it more difficult to make genuine progress.”
    In a Sky News interview on Wednesday, Coe said: “Was there a cover-up? No. In Munich on Thursday, Pound urged Coe to move on.“Of course there was a cover-up, a delay and all sorts of things,” Pound said. “Acknowledge this. If you can’t acknowledge this, you’re never going to get past it.” Hours after Pound’s comments, Coe backtracked from his initial statement. “We are not in denial,” he told Sky News. “We know this has been a cover-up. The delays were a cover-up.”
  • The IC urged the IAAF to better support whistleblowers. Considering whistleblowers Yulia and Vitaly Stepanov were the ones who helped unearth this whole crisis, it’s staggering that the IAAF has not been more welcoming toward the couple, who remain in hiding with young son Robert after fleeing Russia. The IC recommended “that the IAAF publicly recognize the assistance provided by the whistleblowers in establishing the facts of corruption in Russian athletics and offer any necessary support in their relocation and employment” and “that the IAAF offer encouragement and assistance to whistleblowers in matters of doping and other corruption.”
  • Nepotism/Cronyism let this happen. Lamine Diack was able to put his legal advisor Habib Cissé into the results management process of doping positives at the IAAF and put his sons in prominent marketing positions associated with the IAAF. Thus, the opportunity for corruption related to anti-doping and even the awarding of World Championships and sponsorships was created.
  • The IAAF’s response to the accusations leveled by Michael Ashenden and Robin Parisotto in the Sunday Times/ARD investigation was validated. The IC concluded that with regard to the database of blood values leaked to the Sunday Times/ARD last summer, the IAAF followed up on suspicious values in the proper manner and that there is no way the IAAF could have issued sanctions based on the values in the database. The IC validated the IAAF’s response (issued in November 2015) and praised the IAAF for leading the way in the use of the Athlete Biological Passport program. The WADA expert group, concluded, the “frequency of the IAAF’s response to atypical blood samples was commendable.”
  • The Russians were great at cheating the old doping system, but did not know how to evade the new Biological Passport system. Thus, Lamine Diack put his legal advisor Habib Cissé into the chain of command on managing the doping results for Russians within the IAAF and the corruption began with anti-doping.
  • It’s worth looking into the bidding processes of the upcoming World Championships and IAAF sponsorships. Papa Massata Diack was alleged to have solicited a $5 million payment from Doha during bidding for the 2017 World Championships. The IC wrote that “there may be reason to believe that senior IAAF officials and others acting on their behalf may have benefitted from decisions of the IAAF to award certain cities and countries the IAAF Athletics World Championships.” With regard to the 2013 Moscow Worlds, the IC also recommended that “the IAAF should undertake a forensic examination of the relationship and how the rights were awarded to determine whether there were any improprieties.”
  • The report did not address corruption in Kenyan anti-doping, but says more needs to be done in Kenya. Many wondered if the report would address corruption allegations within the Kenyan Federation. It did not. Kenya was only mentioned once in the report. It said that Russia, Turkey, Ukraine, Kenya and Morocco all presented “both a high prevalence of (suspected) blood doping and the practical difficulties of conducting OOC testing in those countries” and called for the IAAF “to shift the onus for whereabouts requirements and effective out-of-competition testing with respect to countries having been designated as high risk, such that those countries must be able, as a condition of eligibility, to demonstrate to the comfortable satisfaction of the IAAF compliance commission that no impediments exist.”

So there you have all of the details. Now our three takeaways.

wadareport WADA IC

1) Where was the ‘Wow factor’?

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After issuing part one of the report in November 2015, Pound promised that the second part would deliver a “wow factor.” So where was it? Granted, when Pound said that, some of the information contained in the report — including the leaked email between Nick Davies and Papa Massata Diack — had not yet been made public. But very little of the information contained in the report was shocking. The corruption went all the way to the top? Not a surprise considering the numerous allegations that have been made against Lamine Diack and his son over the past year. The IAAF’s response to the Sunday Times/ARD investigation was validated? Good for the IAAF, but there’s no shock value there.

In fact, the only thing that made us say “wow” today was not contained in the report. It was Pound’s comments to the media, when he heartily endorsed Coe as IAAF president despite the report’s declaration that the IAAF Council had to know about the corruption.

2) For Pound to roundly criticize the IAAF Council while issuing a ringing endorsement for Coe was baffling.

After issuing part one of the report in November, many viewed Dick Pound as the man to hold the biggest figures in the sport accountable. But his position on Coe today created confusion and spread doubt among track and field fans and journalists. The IC report states “the IAAF Council could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in Athletics and the non-enforcement of applicable anti-doping rules,” yet Pound couldn’t have been more supportive of Coe during the press conference and named Coe as the best man for the job of leading the IAAF. As mentioned above, Pound said, “There’s an enormous amount of reputational recovery that needs to occur here and I can’t think of anyone better than Lord Coe to lead that.” In our minds, looking the other way on doping and leading the IAAF are incompatible (plus when one factors in that when Coe was the head of the FIFA Ethics Commission in 2007, he failed to uncover the corruption that has been coming out recently, Coe has a lot of explaining to do).

When Pound was questioned about this contradiction, he responded:

“I don’t want to lay the failures of an entire council and the lack of a proper governance process at the feet of one individual. I don’t think that would be fair in the circumstances nor organizationally responsive. I think you learn from experience and as they say, experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want. We did this in the IOC as you may recall 15 years or so ago, we had some very bad experience and governance failures. We took on-board the fact that that was our fault and that we had to solve it and we did. And I think we’ve come out the other side. I’m sure that with all the best of goodwill in the world, if athletics wants to do that for the benefit of its sport, it will find a way to do it.”

Later, he was asked whether he thought Coe was lying about not knowing about the doping in Russia.

“I do not believe so,” Pound said. “I think you’ve got to understand the concentration of power in and around the president of any international federation and the relative infrequence with which something like the IAAF Council would meet and the level of information that would be conveyed from those at the top to the council, particularly if it happened to deal with problems.”

Still, Pound’s comments did little to restore faith in the sport and if anything led to more confusion.

3) Looking for Heroes? We’ve Got Three: Thomas Capdevielle, Pierre-Yves Garnier, and Huw Roberts

The three people above all worked at the IAAF (Capdevielle in the anti-doping department, Garnier was the IAAF’s chief doctor, and Roberts the IAAF’s internal counsel) and all three stood up to the IAAF plan to cover up tests. Roberts eventually resigned his job, Capdevielle’s insistence led to Liliya Shobukhova getting banned, and Garnier was constantly not going along. Without the actions of the three above, the IAAF might have been able to cover-up the positives forever. The report said it well, “The IC commends the work, in particular, of Messrs. Capdevielle, Garnier and Roberts, who did their best, often in difficult circumstances, to ensure that anti-doping measures were properly and diligently implemented.” (Full disclosure: The report notes that in Le Monde “there is an unproven allegation attributed to LD — Lamine Diack — that Dr. Garnier received a payment to cover up doping irregularities. Dr. Garnier has denied that any such payment was made.”)

It’s easy for people to say, “Coe must go” but if you replace him, you have to have a better replacement. We don’t know if any of the people above have the experience needed but integrity is more important in our minds.

What do you think? Talk about the press conference on our world famous messageboard:

MB: Official 2nd WADA Press Conference Live Discussion Thread – 
he IAAF, Who Is? 

MB: If Coe Isn’t the Best Person to Lead the IAAF, Who Is? 

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