New Zealand’s Ben Sandford is set to replace Canada’s Beckie Scott as chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Athlete Committee after beating his his only rival, Belgium’s Yuhan Tan, in a vote here today.

The skeleton racer polled 10 votes to the six collected by the badminton player, widely seen as the preferred candidate of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). 

The appointment of Sandford must now be formally endorsed by the WADA Executive Committee at its meeting in Lausanne on January 23.

The 40-year-old Sandford competed in three Winter Olympic Games, with a best position of 10th at Turin 2006.

Sandford’s best finish at the World Championships was third at Lake Placid in 2012.

He is currently a member of the New Zealand Olympic Committee’s Athletes’ Commission.

Britain’s Adam Pengilly, another skeleton racer touted as a potential candidate, withdrew before the election. 

Another withdrawal was Dutch decathlete Chiel Warners.

Scott had been appointed as chair of the WADA Athlete Committee in 2014 to replace Russian ice hockey player Viacheslav Fetisov.

Her reign has ended in controversy, however, after she officially complained about how she was treated at a September 2018 Board meeting in which WADA reinstated the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. 

Beckie Scott's five-year reign as chair of the WADA Athlete Committee will be mostly remembered for her complaining that she was bullied by representatives from the Olympic Movement ©WADA
Beckie Scott’s five-year reign as chair of the WADA Athlete Committee will be mostly remembered for her complaining that she was bullied by representatives from the Olympic Movement ©WADA

Scott had been a fierce opponent to Russia being reinstated until they had met all the criteria originally laid out by WADA. 

Scott named two representatives of the Olympic Movement – the late Patrick Baumann from Switzerland and Italy’s Francesco Ricci Bitti – as being behind the bullying. 

WADA released a 58-page report into the incident in May that concluded Scott was not bullied. 

During the investigation by the law firm Covington and Burling LLP, over 1,000 documents were reviewed and 32 witnesses interviewed, including 29 who attended the meeting in the Seychelles, of which 10 were women.

But Scott did not take part in the investigation because Covington and Burling LLP claimed the Olympic cross-country skiing gold medallist refused because a number of conditions were not met. 

The 32-year-old Tan, a qualified doctor, had participated in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games in London and Rio de Janeiro. 

He had been put forward by groups close to the Olympic Movement and had the support of the IOC members on the WADA Athlete Committee.

They included Kirsty Coventry, chair of the IOC Athletes’ Commission. 

But, despite fierce lobbying in the few hours before the vote here tonight during the fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport, Sandford won more comfortably than predicted. 

This content was originally published here.