A large, influential and increasingly militant group of elite athletes is proposing a radical shake-up of the World Anti-Doping Agency following the recent decision to bring Russia back from the cold.
Led by British powerlifter, Ali Jawad, the plans put athletes at the heart of the fight against doping. They will also reduce the influence of big figures from sport and politics who, the athletes believe, are not transparent about the decisions they make and are conflicted too.
Jawad, a silver medallist at the Rio Paralympics is convinced sport is at a turning point “at a time when trust in the decision-making process for anti-doping, and sport more broadly, is perilously low, we should be doing everything in our power to restore trust, not erode it further.”
WADA faced accusations of moving its own goalposts when it controversially reinstated the Russian Anti-Doping Agency last month, despite the fact it had not complied with two key demands.
The decision so appalled the head of the UK’s anti-doping agency, Nicole Sapstead, that she strayed from her usual diplomatic language.
“It is pretty much sticking two fingers up at the athletes and the organisations that work tirelessly on their behalf. To me it looks dodgy.”
Labelled The Alternative, the new set of proposals, which ITV News understands is supported by the overwhelming majority of the athlete community, would see a complete overhaul of the all powerful WADA Executive.
Out would go the decision-makers from sport and politics, to be replaced by 10 senior independent figures from various other industries. They would be assisted by three athletes and the President and Vice-President who would also be 'independents' - free from potential conflicts of interest.
The athletes claim that is clearly not the case under the current governance as WADA is funded jointly by the International Olympic Committee and various national governments.
Jawad is in no doubt that WADA is in the last chance saloon.
“I am unveiling logical and pragmatic solutions to a very real and current problem," he said.
"I hope thatThe Alternative will create the necessary open and transparent debate that can lead to the change that WADA and sport so desperately needs.”
WADA itself meets later this month to discuss its own ideas for change. It does so with the athlete voice growing louder and angrier and more difficult to ignore than ever before.
Less than a week ago the chair of the British Athletes Commission Victoria Aggar published an open letter to the organisation’s current President, Sir Craig Reedie in the wake of the controversial Russian compromise.
“One of our concerns is that many cheating athletes are, and have been, competing on the world stage although they were part of the Russian doping program, and that WADA is doing little to remedy that,” she said.
Aggar also accuses WADA of ignoring other evidence it is holding.
“A second concern is that the many officials, coaches, trainers, advisors and administrators who were complicit in the doping program, including those in government, remain in office or in positions of authority,” she added.
It is a fact this fledgling militancy largely consists of British and American athletes but it is gaining support quickly. They stop short of calling for an immediate overhaul of WADA’s leadership but that will change if those charged with leading the fight against doping don’t sit up and listen to them soon.
WADA’s reputation among those it exists to protect has never been lower; if it takes any more wrong turns there’s no question its own existence will be challenged like never before.