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Mayor Denis Coderre Wants WADA to Stay in Montreal – Talk of Agency Moving to Switzerland

by John Symon

January 13, 2017 (Montreal, QC) – As part of the continuing Russian doping saga, Montreal Mayor, Denis Coderre, is visiting Switzerland shortly to argue that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) headquarters should stay in Montreal reports La Presse. Coderre indicates that he will be speaking with International Olympic Committee (IOC) chairman Thomas Bach while in Switzerland, but remained vague about his motives for worrying that WADA might soon leave Canada.

Montreal Mayor, Denis Coderre  ©  John Symon
WADA has been at the forefront of investigating recent allegations of systemic state-sponsored sport doping in Russia; calling for severe sanctions and boycotts as punishments. These actions seem to have ruffled feathers in the staid community of international sporting associations.

In November, Sheik Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, a Kuwaiti member of the IOC and president of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), suggested reforms to WADA and that the agency move to Switzerland because of its strong stands against Russian doping.

In mid 2016, WADA called for a ban on Russian athletes competing at the Rio Olympics and Paralympic Games. The IOC reluctantly allowed to a partial ban of Russian athletes at the Rio Olympics while the Intentional Paralympic Committee upheld a complete ban of Russian athletes at the Paralympics. Since then, some international sporting events in Russia have been cancelled and there are ongoing bans against Russians in some sports disciplines such as Track and Field.

“This is punishment,” Christiane Ayotte, Director at the Doping Control Laboratory of the INRS-Institut Armand Frappier, told La Presse, referring to calls to move WADA to Switzerland. She claims that certain forces within the IOC do not want WADA to take such strong stands

WADA headquaters located in the Montreal Stock Exchange Tower  ©  Alexis Hamel
“They want the Agency to move to Switzerland so that it will be closer to (other) federations and to the IOC,” said former WADA president, Dick Pound. “But it is exactly to be far away from such influences that WADA is located in Montreal.”

WADA, which counts some 80 employees, has leased offices in Montreal’s Tour de la Bourse since 2002. The agency’s lease there expires in 2021. Denis Coderre, who previously served as the federal Minister of Sport, is considered to be the “the architect of the diplomatic coup that brought WADA to Canada in 2001” when Montreal won a fourth round, 17-to-15 vote over Lausanne, Switzerland.

In apparent retaliation for the strong sanctions imposed on Russian athletes, a group calling itself the “Fancy Bears” hacked into WADA computers to leak confidential information in September, 2016 about many leading sports figures worldwide. WADA claimed that the attacks originated from inside Russia.

This leaked information typically involved the various athletes’ Therapeutic Use Exemption (TUE) forms in an attempt to deflect attention from Russia and suggest the problem is not only in Russia. The most publicized case was that of Sir Bradley Wiggins, who won the 2012 Tour de France while accessing the otherwise banned steroid, triamcinolone via his TUE.

Various intelligence reports also link the Fancy Bears to the Russian government’s apparent hacking attacks this summer against the Democratic National Convention in the USA. According to recent allegations by the FBI, these attacks represented a foreign power trying to interfere with US politics. Some suggest Fancy Bears leaked information about Hillary Clinton that may have even tipped the presidential election in favour of Republican nominee, Donald Trump.

Coderre to visit IOC in Switzerland: here
WADA asked to leave Montreal: here
From Pedal archives: Coderre’s role in getting WADA to Montreal in 2001: here
Fancy Bears hacks into WADA: here
Fancy Bears Wikipedia entry: here

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