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WADA concerned by board changes at Russia anti-doping agency

October 8, 2021 GMT

MONTREAL (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency has expressed concern over the “sudden” replacement of three out of seven board members at the suspended Russian anti-doping agency.

WADA said it would look into the process by which three new supervisory board members were appointed Wednesday after three others resigned.

The interim CEO of the Russian agency, Mikhail Bukhanov, told state news agency RIA Novosti that the process was rushed.

Bukhanov said WADA was not given enough information and that the board was now “illegitimate.” Other officials from the agency, known as RUSADA, have defended the process and criticized Bukhanov in Russian media.

“WADA is concerned with the sudden resignations of three Supervisory Board members, including the Chair,” WADA said in an e-mailed statement. “We are in communication with the Founders of RUSADA and have requested further information on the three new members, including the process followed to appoint them, in order to conduct a thorough assessment of the situation.”

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Applications for the vacant seats were announced open Sept. 29 on the website of the Association of Lawyers of Russia and the places were filled a week later. The new members are a medical professor, a Soviet-era hockey player and a lawyer.

Last month, WADA president Witold Banka warned that “there must be no attempt by the Russian state or sporting authorities to interfere” with RUSADA, following talks with Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin.

RUSADA has not had a permanent CEO since Yuri Ganus was fired in August 2020 following an audit into alleged financial irregularities.

Ganus frequently criticized Russian sports authorities while at RUSADA and said evidence against him appeared to have been falsified. The agency is seeking to appoint a new CEO on a permanent basis.

RUSADA remains suspended because of past doping cover-ups and manipulation of evidence. Russia competed at the Tokyo Olympics without its flag or anthem this year, and will do the same at next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing, again using the name Russian Olympic Committee.

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