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WADA head Reedie hits back at critics, won't step down

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WADA head Reedie hits back at critics, won't step down

WADA head Reedie hits back at critics, won't step down
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Denis Balibouse(Reuters)
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By Alan Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Craig Reedie hit back at his critics on Thursday and said he would not be resigning after coming under fire over the reinstatement of Russia's testing body RUSADA.

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The Scot bridled at comments made by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) head Travis Tygart calling for him to step down and suggesting having an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member at the helm was "the fox guarding the henhouse".

"It’s patently untrue," Reedie told Reuters at a WADA symposium at Lord's cricket ground.

"It’s a phrase that has been used against people from the International Olympic Committee who are involved with WADA and it ignores reality. I find it quite honestly offensive. Travis Tygart... should not have used it."

"This (WADA) is an organisation, a hybrid between governments and sport, with lots of able people working every day for clean sport. And this kind of stuff is maybe publicly attractive to the people who say it but does not represent reality."

WADA has acknowledged the need for change, a governance working group recommending the future introduction of an independent president with no links to the sports movement or governments.

Reedie said he would serve to the end of his second term, which expires next year.

"Nobody in WADA is telling me that I am not performing well, nobody in the IOC is telling me, so why should I resign? I don’t think that would be productive for either the IOC or WADA and therefore I am pretty determined to see this out," he said.

A forum, convened by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and USADA, on Wednesday joined calls for an urgent restructuring of the global anti-doping body to serve clean athletes.

Leaders of 18 national anti-doping organizations had delivered the same message on Monday.

Tygart told the Daily Mail newspaper at the Washington meeting that confidence in WADA had been destroyed.

"If you have an interest in needing Russia in events because it's good for broadcasters or sponsorships or the IOC pocketbook, we can't have those same IOC folks making decisions that are tough," said the American.

OWN BACKYARD

Reedie said he had experienced more problems in recent years with the IOC than governments and suggested Tygart should look to his own backyard.

"If he claims to be a proponent and developer of clean sport, then he might actually look at the major sports in his own country which are not code-compliant," he said.

"I’m not saying they are not clean, but they are not code-compliant with the rules accepted by the rest of the world.

"Perhaps, and it’s only an idea, he should go and speak to the players’ unions in the United States and find out a way of making them compliant.

"It’s not going to be easy but that in my view would be a greater contribution to clean sport than spending two-and-a half years throwing insults at me and my organisation."

WADA has also faced criticism after athletes' representative Beckie Scott told the BBC she was "treated with disrespect" and faced "inappropriate" comments and gestures from the executive committee for opposing Russia's reinstatement.

Reedie said he would not respond through the media.

"I am going to speak to Beckie first. We are assembling the information, we have taken independent advice... and I will discuss that with Beckie when I meet her in Baku (next week)," he said.

WADA angered many athletes groups and anti-doping campaigners who argued RUSADA had been readmitted in September despite failing to meet all of the criteria laid out in a "Roadmap to Compliance".

The Russian agency was suspended in November, 2015, after an independent WADA report carried out by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren outlined evidence of state-backed, systematic doping and cover-ups in Russian sport.

Reedie said "leaving the situation in limbo served nobody" and was hopeful WADA would now have access to data and stored urine samples at a Moscow laboratory as a result of the reinstatement.

(Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg)

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