The heads of the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committees, the founders of RUSADA, voted unanimously for early termination of the contract with the agency’s general director Yuri Ganus, who had worked in this position for three years. Ganus is accused of misappropriation of funds and other violations revealed during the audit of the organization. The dismissal of a functionary may turn into problems with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), with which Ganus has developed a quite working relationship. But at stake is the autumn meeting of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne on new sanctions against Russia, where the unpredictability of the ex-head of RUSADA could turn into big problems.
The check failed
Financial claims against Yuri Ganus became known in mid-July. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) released the results of RUSADA’s audit, which highlighted accounting problems, fantastic taxi costs, oddities during previous audits and other irregularities. Ganus himself and his team denied the accusations, but, as the head of the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) Vladimir Lukin said, the CEO’s answers “were one hundred percent political,” and law enforcement agencies will check the audit report of RUSADA’s activities.
As a result, on August 5, the Supervisory Board of RUSADA recommended parting with Ganus, and the Board of Founders on August 28 supported this recommendation. Mikhail Bukhanov, a lawyer of the organization, will temporarily act as the head of the agency.
– The decision to remove Ganus was made solely on the basis of the violations of administrative and economic activities, for which, according to the charter, the general director bears responsibility, – stressed the head of the ROC Stanislav Pozdnyakov. – ROC and RPC, as founders of RUSADA, acted as guarantors of the agency receiving direct subsidies from the state budget. This made it possible to ensure the operational independence of RUSADA. In the same time The ROC and the ROC are responsible for the proper spending of public funds. The founders instructed the acting general director to apply to law enforcement agencies with a corresponding statement.
The Supervisory Board of RUSADA will select a new CEO on a competitive basis within six months. Together with Ganus, his deputy Margarita Pakhnotskaya also leaves. In addition, the representative of the World Anti-Doping Agency Sergey Khrychikov submitted a letter of resignation from the Supervisory Board. He was the only one who supported Ganus during the 5 August meeting.
WADA is waiting for a response
At the same time, the candidacy of the new head of RUSADA must still be agreed with WADA. Meanwhile, in the World Agency itself, the news of the dismissal of the general RUSADA was perceived rather negatively. “WADA takes note of the decision of the founders of RUSADA to dismiss Yuri Ganus,” the World Agency said in a statement. “These events add to our concern. We emphasize the critical importance of maintaining operational independence for RUSADA in the future. WADA will additionally contact RUSADA and other Russian structures in order to obtain clarification on the latest developments. “
Formally, no claims were made against the main activity of Yuri Ganus in the fight against doping, Stanislav Pozdnyakov even praised the dismissed functionary for the work done. True, parting with Ganus happened shortly before the most important court case in the Sports Arbitration, in which RUSADA is the defendant. At stake is the performance of the Russian national team under its own flag at major competitions for four years. WADA proposes to impose such sanctions on our country for the alleged falsification of the database of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory. By the way, the idea of transferring this base to WADA belonged to Ganus.
The supervisory board of RUSADA did not agree with the accusations of falsification, but Ganus attached a dissenting opinion with the opposite position to the official response. It was extremely risky to go to a serious court, having a “dissenting opinion” in the key position of the leader. The general director of RUSADA was previously known for his impulsiveness – he called his opponents “servants of the devil”, complained about surveillance and wiretapping, said that the fight against doping was “not a job, but a mission” for him and made ambiguous statements in foreign media. He became the only Russian official who managed to establish relations with Western anti-doping structures, but at the same time clearly separated himself from the structure of Russian sports. That is why WADA, having no claims to the leadership of RUSADA, in the end still announced sanctions against Russia.
– I have no doubts about the legality of such a decision on the part of the Supervisory Board and the Board of Founders of RUSADA, – said the former CEO of RUSADA (2011-2015), Doctor of Medical Sciences Ramil Khabriev in a conversation with Izvestia. – But it will not be entirely appropriate for me to give any assessments of Yuri Ganus’s activities now.
Note that Yuri Ganus’s powers were valid until September 2021. Before joining RUSADA, he was as far away from sports and medicine as possible. He taught at Bauman University and was a crisis manager in large industrial companies.