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Russia avoids further Wada sanctions

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has ruled that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) remains compliant despite missing a December 31 deadline to provide data from the Moscow laboratory implicated in the country’s doping scandal.

In September, Wada reinstated Rusada in a controversial move that overturned the suspension handed out in November 2015 amid the doping scandal that enveloped Russian sport.

The reinstatement came with the condition that all data from the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the underlying analytical data generated by the former Moscow facility was retrieved by the end of 2018.

This deadline was missed and Wada immediately notified Rusada of this non-conformity, and a fast-track process outlined in the International Standard for Code of Compliance by Signatories (ISCCS) was instigated.

Wada announced last week that it had successfully retrieved the data from the laboratory, stating the news represented a “major breakthrough” for clean sport.

The independent Compliance Review Committee, which met in Montreal on January 14-15 to consider Rusada’s compliance status, received a full report on everything that has happened since the September 20 decision. Its recommendation was submitted for consideration by Wada’s ExCo yesterday (Tuesday).

The ExCo has now confirmed that it will continue applying the conditions outlined in its September decision. Rusada must therefore fulfil to maintain compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code.

The decision was taken after the ExCo endorsed a recommendation of the CRC during an ExCo meeting held by conference call. The recommendation was noted and endorsed without dissent by the 11 members of ExCo who were on the call.

Wada president Sir Craig Reedie said: “Today, the ExCo was pleased to hear of the significant progress that has been made in resolving the Russian doping matter since its decision in September last year to reinstate Rusada under strict conditions. Collecting the all-important data is a critical step, and it was not easy to achieve. We are not yet at the finishing line and there is a lot more to do but undeniably we are much further along the track than we would have been without the September ExCo decision.

“We are now proceeding to the second phase of that decision, namely authenticating the data retrieved from the former Moscow Laboratory so that ultimately we can use them to catch more athletes who cheated and to exonerate others. We will not be deterred from this mission, which we firmly believe is in the best interests of clean sport and of athletes worldwide.

“Several members of the ExCo voiced their disappointment that the deadline had been missed but agreed that no sanction in that regard should be imposed. Above all, we want to ensure that those who cheated are held to account. That is what the September ExCo decision was all about, and I hope athletes and others see that we are making good progress in that regard.”

Russia remains at risk of being banned from the 2020 summer Olympic Games if there is evidence that the data retrieved by Wada has been tampered with.

In a letter to Wada director general Olivier Niggli that was reported by UK newspaper The Guardian, Jonathan Taylor, head of Wada’s CRC, said the “toughest possible sanctions” would be imposed on Russia if the data has been tampered with.

The letter added: “These will very likely include that Russia may not be granted any right to host any World Championships in any sport for a specified period; and that no Russian officials, athletes or athlete support personnel will be permitted to participate in the 2020 Olympic or Paralympic Games.”