In December 2012, the World Anti-Doping Agency received an email from an Olympic athlete from Russia. She was asking for help.
The athlete, a discus thrower named Darya Pishchalnikova, had won a silver medal four months earlier at the London Olympics. She said that she had taken banned drugs at the direction of Russian sports and antidoping authorities and that she had information on systematic doping in her country. Please investigate, she implored the agency in the email, which was written in English.
“I want to cooperate with WADA,” the email said.
But WADA, the global regulator of doping in Olympic sports, did not begin an inquiry, even though a staff lawyer circulated the message to three top officials, calling the accusations “relatively precise,” including names and facts. Instead, the agency did something that seemed antithetical to its mission to protect clean athletes. It sent Ms. Pishchalnikova’s email to Russian sports officials — the very people who she said were running the doping program.
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