“It’s really dangerous for me,” he said. But Ganus said he was driven to complete what he described as “the mission” to assure that a new generation of Russian athletes could return, untainted, to international sports.
“Russia is a high level sports country, but those people who are responsible to solve this situation for many years chose the wrong way, the wrong approach,” he said.
There is a suspicion in sporting circles that Russia has allowed Ganus to speak out publicly so that he can separate the work of his agency, which has drawn praise from WADA for changes it has made, from that of the state authorities that control the Moscow laboratory where the athletes’ data was stored. The government still considers that lab a crime scene under the control of state officials, not of domestic antidoping regulators.
“Certainly if he’s speaking truth to power, maybe he’s going to defect sometime soon or it’s a strategic move,” Travis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said of Ganus. “I think the real issue is: Can the WADA system hold the national antidoping system responsible for something that the minister’s office is ultimately responsible for?”
By lifting its ban on Russia last year before the country had complied with two remaining provisions of its so-called road map to reinstatement — namely, providing the athletes’ data to WADA and acknowledging that Russia’s doping program was state-controlled — WADA effectively freed the authorities who control the lab from the need to follow the terms of that agreement. Those officials might not fall under WADA’s jurisdiction, as the Russian antidoping agency, known as Rusada, does.
“When they let them out of that road map, it put a lot of pressure on their ability under the new rules to hold Russia’s state minister’s office and sport community responsible through their authority over the national antidoping organization,” Tygart said. “That’s what’s going to come to a head. And let’s hope it does.”
Last month, the English lawyer Jonathan Taylor, who leads the WADA committee overseeing Russian compliance, said the country would need to “pull a rabbit out of the hat” to provide a credible explanation for anomalies in the data extracted from the Moscow lab.