Australia’s four-times Olympic race walk medallist Jared Tallent has declared the governance of the World Anti-Doping Agency, which last month controversially decided to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), as "not fit for purpose".
Sport Ireland and the Athletes’ Commission of the Olympic Federation of Ireland (OFI) have also joined the international call for an independent investigation into alleged bullying by a number of WADA Executive Committee members at the meeting in the Seychelles where the Compliance Review Committee’s fateful vote occurred last month
The latest criticism for WADA comes a day after Britain’s world marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe told insidethegames of her deep concerns over the lack of response from the International Olympic Committee to the treatment of Canada’s Beckie Scott, who said she had been “bullied” and “belittled” by “members of the Olympic Movement” for her opposition to the RUSADA ban being lifted.
Scott, a former cross-country skier and Olympic gold medallists, has since resigned her position as chair of WADA’s Athlete Committee.
Tallent, who became London 2012 gold medallist after Russia’s original winner, Sergey Kirdyapkin, was stripped of the title for doping, today became the second high-profile athlete to endorse officially a radical Reform Paper proposed to shake up the WADA governance in order to make it "more in tune with the wishes and rights of the global athlete community".
The 34-year-old from Adelaide commented: "The governance of the World Anti-Doping Agency of 2018, in its current form, is not fit for purpose."
Tallent has given his fulll support to the "logical and pragmatic" Reform Proposal Paper launched by Britain’s Rio 2016 Parlaympic powerlifting silve medallist Ali Jawad earlier this month.
Entitled The Alternative: Reforming WADA’s Governance for a new Anti-Doping Age, the paper draws together ideas and proposals considered over recent years by members of the athlete community.
The Alternative calls for the sport and government representatives on the influential WADA Executive Committee to be replaced by fully independent members; and for future WADA Presidents to be selected as "independents", instead of alternating the position from the worlds of sport and Government.
"In light of the recent Russian doping scandal, the biggest doping scandal of all time, the governance structure of the World Anti-Doping Agency of 2018 is quite simply, in its current form, not fit for purpose – it is broken," Tallent, the 50 kilometres walk Olympic record holder, said.
"WADA has changed for the worse in the last few years, with it becoming increasingly close to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and, as a result, increasingly compromised and conflicted in the global fight against doping.
"Athletes are now deeply worried about the direction WADA is heading, and, in the absence of there being the robust and single-minded leadership that we require, it is now incumbent on us, the athletes, to drive the change that we all want to see in WADA.
"The lack of independence, along with the fact that decisions that impact the livelihoods of clean athletes are made surreptitiously and “behind closed doors”, are two areas of huge concern to international athletes.
"This is not how sport should be run in 2018, and it is definitely not how something as important as anti-doping should be run.
"It is time for change and time for athlete-led solutions, and that is why I am proud to give my wholehearted backing to this bold, logical and pragmatic set of proposals that need to be implemented if we are to regain athlete and public confidence in sport.
"I encourage my fellow athletes to join Ali and me, and back these proposals, and I encourage WADA and the IOC to start listening - they must remember who they represent.
“In particular, the way that the IOC and WADA members have responded to bullying allegations is totally inappropriate.
"It is beyond belief that those who are supposed to represent the athletes treat our voices with such contempt, and it’s equally disappointing that since then WADA and the IOC have maintained a virtual silence on the matter, which implicitly suggests an acceptance of bullying.
"I believe an independent, transparent WADA inquiry into the allegations must be held at the earliest opportunity.
"Athletes demand it."
Sport Ireland’s chief executive John Treacy and director of participation and ethics Dr Una May expressed the organisation’s deep worry in the wake of Scott’s bullying allegations made during a recent interview with the BBC.
"Beckie Scott is the voice of clean athletes worldwide and what she revealed in her interview with the BBC is shocking, but not unsurprising given the general attitude to the views of athletes throughout the entire RUSDA reinstatement debacle," Treacy, the 1984 Olympic marathon silver medallist, said.
"Ms Scott is a highly respected advocate for clean athletes everywhere and has been an exemplary professional throughout what has been an extremely turbulent time for the global fight against doping in sport.
"To hear of the allegations that she was treated with such disrespect by a number of members of WADA’s Executive Committee at its meeting is deeply upsetting and should never happen.
"To reiterate what we, and all advocates for transparency and integrity in the global doping system, have said all along - the most important people in all of this are the clean athletes.
"Their voices need to be heard and they need to be listened to."
Shane O’Connor, chairman of the OFI Athletes’ Commission, added support for Scott.
"We have already made clear that WADA’s decision to move the goalposts on its own McClaren report recommendations is unacceptable and has caused serious damage to the credibility of WADA and to all who try to protect clean sport," he said.
"Beckie Scott was right to resign.
"She stood for the principles of clean athletes all over the world.
"We respect her decision and stand united behind her.”
May,added: "In Ms Scott’s own words, the actions of those making these important decisions is 'indicative of a general attitude of dismissal and belittling of the athlete voice' and this is symptomatic of appalling manner in which athletes are treated when it comes to matters of international importance.
"It is important that an independent investigation into these allegations be established by WADA without delay so that any wrongdoing be corrected as a matter of urgency."