Statement on Anti-Doping by Mr Shane Ross TD Minster for Transport Tourism and Sport and Mr Brendan Griffin TD Minister of State for Sport and Tourism

“What has transpired over the last number of weeks in the build-up to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games is deeply worrying and has the potential to be damaging to the future of sport. The situation whereby a sizeable number of Russian athletes may now be allowed to compete in the Games highlights the enormity of the challenge of the global fight against doping in sport.

“We have noted comments from Olympian and IOC member Adam Pengilly, and WADA vice-president Minister Linda Helleland (the Norwegian Minster of Children and Equality and former Minister of Culture) who spoke strongly on the need for change. Minister Helleland described the current situation as “chaotic” and “untenable” and we could not be more in agreement with her on this very important matter. She has called for an independent investigation. We would support that call and echo her views and those of our Government counterparts internationally who are calling for a new level of confidence in the global fight-against doping in sport. All Governments need to be visible on this matter and supportive of their National Anti-Doping Organisations. We must also fund the fight against doping. Crucially, we must demand excellence with regard to governance. Not only should we insist on excellence within our own jurisdictions, Governments must also collaborate and demand excellence internationally, particularly with regard to governance structures.

“In that regard, we believe that it is now essential to address the clear conflict of interest that arises from having sport policy decision makers involved in the anti-doping process. The latest Russian development is yet another crystal clear example of why this conflict of interest needs to be removed in order to restore confidence in the system.

“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a clear conflict of interest and should have no influence or role in the affairs of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). The status quo is undermining the credibility of a system which is in tatters.

“Most important of all, clean athletes who are dedicating their lives to sport deserve a level playing field. They must be supported by their governments. We cannot continue to stand aside and observe the lurching from one shambles to the next. Clean athletes are being let down in a shameful way and it is high time to call a halt to this completely unacceptable state of affairs. Integrity in sport is an absolute requirement, not an optional extra.

“We will be raising this matter with our fellow sports ministers and would welcome concerted and collaborative action that addresses the matter effectively and decisively.”