Wada team to return to Moscow for required data
With the clock ticking towards new sanctions, Russian authorities said yesterday they would allow a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) inspection team to return to a Moscow laboratory to retrieve data it had earlier been denied.
Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov said Wada officials would return to Moscow today.
Wada also confirmed in a press release that a three-person expert team would be allowed entry to the tainted Moscow laboratory and data it was prevented from securing during a visit in December.
Access to the lab and data before a Dec 31 deadline was a condition of Wada's September decision to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada).
However, extraction of data stored in the facility's Laboratory Information Management System, was not completed due to a technicality, leaving Rusada again at risk of being found non-compliant.
Russian authorities had said that the inspection team's equipment was not certified under Russian law.
The decision to allow the new inspection team access comes with Wada preparing to impose possible new sanctions on Rusada.
Rusada was suspended in 2015 after a Wada-commissioned report outlined evidence of state-backed, systematic doping in Russian athletics, allegations Moscow has denied.
A Wada Compliance Review Committee (CRC) is scheduled to meet at the agency's Montreal headquarters on Jan 14-15, when they are expected to hear from the original five-member inspection team.
The CRC is then due to submit a report to the Wada executive committee and could recommend that Rusada once again be ruled non-compliant and face new sanctions.
"While Wada is obliged under the International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories to give every opportunity to Rusada, we are continuing to act on the basis of the Dec 31 deadline having been missed, with all the consequences that failure could bring," Wada president Craig Reedie said in a statement.
"This week's mission to Moscow is not only about us following due process and precedent.
"If the mission is successful in acquiring the data, it will break a long impasse and will potentially lead to many cases being actioned."
The latest developments are sure to trigger more criticism and attacks from athletes and anti-doping groups who have been pushing Wada to take swift, firm action against Russia for the failure to hand over data by the required deadline.
Wada said the authentication and analysis of the data will be crucial in order to build strong cases against cheats and exonerate other athletes suspected of having participated in widespread doping exposed in Wada-backed investigations. - REUTERS