UK ATHLETICS COMMISSIONS AN INDEPENDENT REVIEW INTO ITS HANDLING OF ISSUES CONCERNING THE NIKE OREGON PROJECT IN ORDER TO ENSURE ITS FUTURE GOVERNANCE AND ASSURANCE FRAMEWORK IS ROBUST
UK Athletics (UKA) has today announced the commissioning of an Independent Review (Independent Review) following Alberto Salazar’s 4-year ban from the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) for violations of safe practices through his managing and running coaching programmes at the Nike Oregon Project (NOP).
In a press release UKA state they acknowledge the seriousness of the decision by USADA. It has now commissioned the Independent Review to review the processes under which the issues concerning the NOP were investigated in 2015 and 2017 and the subsequent related decisions made by the UKA Board at those respective times. The Independent Review will also set out any recommendations to assist UKA ensure its future governance and assurance framework is robust.
The Independent Review will be undertaken by John Mehrzad, the recognised leading sports law barrister with significant experience of conducting independent reviews in sport. He was the only legal member of the independent review panel that looked into the climate and culture of the world-class programme in British Cycling. He then chaired the independent review concerning governance issues within the British Equestrian Federation. He has also written and presented extensively on good practice for independent reviews and investigations within a sporting context.
The Independent Review will address the following questions:
UKA commissioned a review of the issues raised by the BBC Panorama programme ‘Catch me if you can’, broadcast in June 2015:
1) Were the terms of reference for that review reasonable given the nature of the allegations?
2) Were that review’s findings and conclusions presented in a reasonable way to enable the UKA Board to make informed decisions?
3) Were the subsequent decisions and recommendations made by the UKA Board reasonable with regard to the evidence available at the time?
Did the UKA Board give reasonable consideration to the ‘Fancy Bears’ leaking of the draft USADA report in 2017? Were the subsequent actions of the UKA Board reasonable with regard to the evidence available at the time?
Did UKA seek advice from UK Sport, UKAD and USADA in relation to the above issues in 2015 and 2017 respectively and, if so, did any of those bodies provide any formal response or guidance to the UKA in either 2015 or 2017?
Were the recommendations in the 2015 review reasonably actioned, tracked and documented by UKA in a manner which minimised future risk?
What lessons can be learnt from the above matters that can assist with the future governance of UKA?
UKA will aim to publish the findings from the Review in or around Spring 2020 and agrees to implement any recommendations made by that Review, to ensure its future governance and assurance framework is robust.
Chair of UK Athletics Performance Oversight Committee and of the 2015 NOP review, Sarah Rowell said:
“There has been much written about what the Oregon Project review looked into, found or concluded in 2015, and I therefore welcome this review as an opportunity to establish the full facts and for those facts to be published for all to see.”
UK Athletics Chair Chris Clark said:
“The UKA Board recognises the seriousness of the USADA decision released at the start of October. It has unanimously agreed that an independent review should now be carried out with the aim that findings and recommendations are published in or around Spring 2020.
“Our staff, athletes and coaches show immense dedication to this sport and are proud to be associated with British Athletics. We need to ensure we have a clear way forward that gives us confidence in the integrity of our coaching efforts. If there are lessons to be learnt, we plan to implement any recommendations into a future focused, transparent and accountable way of working.”