'No bullying' at meeting: WADA probe

Montreal (AFP) –


The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said Wednesday independent investigators found no evidence of bullying and harassment by senior executives during a stormy meeting last year which addressed the lifting of a drugs ban against Russia.

WADA had hired external legal investigators to conduct an investigation following accusations of bullying leveled against senior officials by Canadian cross-country skier Beckie Scott.

Scott, who had spoken out against WADA's plans to lift sanctions against Russia's anti-doping agency (RUSADA), said she had been treated with a "level of disrespect" by fellow WADA officials at the meeting in the Seychelles.

But a 58-page report by independent investigators concluded that while colleagues had treated Scott in an "aggressive, harsh and disrespectful" manner, it did not constitute bullying.

The report recommended a series of measures to be implemented, including training of executive committee members on boardroom dialogue.

"Although the investigation found there was no bullying or harassment, at its next meeting in September the ExCo will consider the recommendations relating to the Agency's governance policies, training and protocols and remains ready to make improvements where it can," WADA said in a statement.

"The discussion related specifically to those recommendations aside, the ExCo now considers the investigation to be closed."

The controversy had erupted after Scott claimed she was ridiculed when she produced a list of athlete committees who had spoken against lifting the ban on Russia over its doping scandal.

"There was laughter when I read the list of athlete committees who had produced statements and who were confronting the decision," Scott told the BBC last year.

"It was all, it was a combined effect that left me feeling as though there is very little respect, there is very little appreciation, and there is very little value for the contribution that the athletes have at this table."

Scott said neither WADA's president nor director general had challenged officials who made "gestures that were inappropriate."

Investigators however said there was no credible evidence that anyone at the meeting had laughed at Scott when she spoke.

However the report provided insight into the tensions within WADA between various stakeholders, with International Olympic Committee member Francesco Ricci Bitti suggesting that Scott had acted "victimistic."

"The athlete plays a good role, but they have to keep their place as everybody," Ricci Bitti said.