US anti-doping head repeatedly violated own anti-doping code

US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart has repeatedly violated the so-called “WADA code” that USADA is bound by. WADA is short for the World Anti-Doping Agency. WADA’s so-called “code” is the international anti-doping rulebook. Tygart denies violating the WADA code.

USADA is a WADA signatory, meaning that they are one of “those entities accepting the Code and agreeing to implement the Code.” The WADA code defines USADA as an ADO (“Anti-Doping Organization”).

Travis Tygart, USADA CEO (picture is from the USADA website)

“The provision you rely on for your mistaken assumption applies to the ADOs handling or notified officially under the rules of the Code about an individual case, which we are not in this case,” Tygart wrote to the Guardian.

Tygart is simply wrong. The provision in question, WADA Code §14.3.6, in relevant part states the following:

No Anti-Doping Organization or WADA-accredited laboratory, or official of either, shall publicly comment on the specific facts of any pending case (as opposed to general description of process and science) except in response to public comments attributed to, or based on information provided by the Athlete, other Person or their entourage or other representatives. [our underlining]

Tygart’s violation of the WADA Code consists of repeatedly commenting on pending doping cases and doing so not “in response to public comments attributed” to the Athlete or their representatives. Contrary to Tygart’s assertion, the code provides no exemption for ADO:s “not handling or notified officially” about a doping case. The plain language of the rule shows that it applies to all ADO:s, including USADA, and it applies all the time.

Tygart has been outspoken about doping, especially doping in Russia. This includes the alleged doping by Russian figure skater Kamila Valieva, a news story that broke during the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Valieva case has not been finally adjudicated and is currently before the CAS (the Court of Arbitration for Sport).

Although vocal on Russian doping, USADA’s Twitter feed has been silent on the recent scandal involving state-sponsored doping in Norway. In that case, the tax-dollar funded Norwegian Sports Federation (NIF) and the Norwegian Anti-Doping Agency ADNO covered up the non-testing of certain athletes for over 3 years.

As this USADA tweet shows, Tygart was present at the signing ceremony in June 2018 of an “anti-doping action” agreement. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg was also present. The state-sponsored doping in Norway began in May the following year. Even after that scandal came to light in late August of 2022, USADA called Norway an “international anti-doping leader.”

In his email to the Guardian, Tygart defended his repeated violations of the WADA code by saying that “we will have to disagree if you do not believe these comments are not rightly attributable to the athlete or her representatives.”

However, the WADA code §14.3.6 paragraph in question says “attributed to the Athlete,” not the word “attributable” that Tygart used. Tygart is an attorney by training and USADA’s former general counsel.

“Unfortunately, as recent anti-doping facts have shown, the Russian government, anti-doping and sport system acts on behalf of and speaks for all Russian athletes,” Tygart went on to say. His allegations go far beyond what Tygart has asserted in US Senate testimony, or in interviews we have reviewed.

To claim that “the Russian government …acts on behalf of and speaks for all Russian athletes” is an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary proof. Tygart provided none. Tygart’s claim that the “anti-doping sports system” in Russia is rigged is also remarkable, given that it was the Russian Anti-Doping Agency RUSADA that collected the Valieva sample on December 25 last year. It was this sample that showed the presence of a banned substance.

“There has always been a disturbing dark heart to the anti-doping movement,”  Washington Post sports columnist Sally Jenkins wrote in June of 2021. “Anti-doping is not a public policy. It’s a crude theology.” Yet Jenkins’ column still appeared to defend the actions of Tygart and USADA.

“The only agenda we have is to ensure clean athletes’ rights are protected regardless of where they are from or where they compete,” Tygart wrote us. But USADA’s repeated attacks on US adversaries (Russia), attacks that violate the anti-doping code, while simultaneously turning a blind eye to state-sponsored doping by US allies (Norway), all this raises questions about USADA’s true agenda.

USADA receives more than half of its approximately $30 million per year budget from the US government.

As always….the Guardian reports and our readers decide. Like our Facebook page to find out when we publish articles.

 

 

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