By Steve Keating
MONTREAL (Reuters) – Canadian Olympic cross-country skiing champion Beckie Scott accused the World Anti-Doping (WADA) of whitewashing her complaints of harassment and intimidation, saying on Thursday she was “extremely disappointed” in an independent report.
WADA released a 58-page report on Wednesday along with an audio recording of an executive board meeting last September when Scott, chair of the body’s Athletes committee, alleged she was harassed for objecting to Russia’s reinstatement after a doping ban.
The report produced by the law firm Covington and Burling LLP found that Scott had faced comments from WADA executive board members Francesco Ricci Bitti and Patrick Baumann that could have been viewed as harsh, disrespectful and aggressive but determined they did not reach the level of harassment.
Claims by WADA board member Edwin Moses that he was told to “shut up” at another meeting were also investigated by Covington and Burling LLP but could not be corroborated.
“Today, Beckie Scott and Edwin Moses expressed their extreme disappointment in the report released today by The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) through their appointed law firm, Covington & Burling LLP, whitewashing complaints of harassment and intimidation,” Ben Chew, lawyer for Scott and Moses, said in a statement.
“WADA is supposed to be committed to the athletes and fair play,” Chew said. “Yet when Dr. Moses and Ms. Scott showed the courage to step forward and try to speak their truth in order to achieve reform, transparency and accountability, WADA made it impracticable.”
Scott and Moses did not cooperate with the investigation due to concern over the manner in which it was conducted, noting that Covington and Burling LLP had previously been contracted to do work for WADA creating a conflict of interest.
Despite Scott’s claims of a flawed report, WADA president Craig Reedie declared the case closed.
“Hopefully, this is the end of it,” Reedie told Reuters. “No bullying took place.
“It’s two investigations we have been involved in, they both produced the same result.
“It is a great regret for WADA that two of our heads of committees chose to threaten legal action against us which forced us to take the proper legal responses. Let’s hope it is the end and we can move on.”
WADA opened its Foundation board meeting on Thursday with a report by lawyers from Covington and Burling LLP and Reedie declaring the matter closed.
A stone-faced Scott, sitting directly across from the Covington representatives, showed no expression as details of the investigation were explained.
Scott later gave her Athletes’ Commission report before leaving the meeting without commenting on the results of the investigation.
While Scott made no comment, WADA vice-president Linda Helleland, who also declined to participate in the investigation citing similar concerns of transparency, came to the Canadian’s support.
“The process itself and the way it has been dealt with is critical,” Helleland said.
“We have a situation where many members, if not all the public authorities members of the executive committee and Foundation board have very little information and knowledge of what has been going on.”
(Editing by Ed Osmond)