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Russian sport ‘flying into the abyss’, claims Rusada chief

Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) director general, Yuri Ganus, has called for the removal of any state officials found to be complicit in the country’s ongoing doping scandal, adding that Russian sport is “flying into the abyss” amid renewed World Anti-Doping Agency scrutiny into the matter.

Writing in an open letter, Ganus said that he felt “betrayed” after it was disclosed that evidence has emerged that doping data key to Russia’s potential full reintroduction to the global sporting scene had been tampered with.

On September 23, Wada gave Rusada and the Russian Ministry of Sport three weeks to address “inconsistencies” in historical data supplied by the agency as part of the process that secured its reinstatement. The uncovering of this alleged tampering could lead to fresh sanctions against Russia, including a potential ban from the 2020 summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

“We have been betrayed, we have had the right to be on the side of truth taken away from us,” Ganus said. “Now Russian sports organisations are not just on the edge of an abyss. We are flying into the abyss, the depth of which is hard to predict.”

While Russia has consistently denied a state-sponsored doping regime was in place for major events such as its home winter Olympic Games in Sochi back in 2014, it has conceded that officials were involved in covering up doping cases. Ganus has previously called for the dismissal of sports officials, including the head of Russia’s athletics federation, to ensure the country’s track and field athletes can compete at Tokyo 2020, but this has not resulted in any changes.

“It’s finally time to understand who’s working in the interests of the state, and who is destroying the state authorities’ reputation,” he wrote. “And the individuals whose actions have brought Russian sport to such an unacceptable point in the doping crisis have discredited sport, but they are also discrediting Russia’s system of state authorities, where there are many honest state employees serving.”

Ganus said the methods used by Russian sports authorities are “weighing down on the situation”. He added: “We must urgently change them by carrying out the replacement of all those who were involved in this.”

Wada reinstated Rusada in September 2018, overturning the suspension handed out in November 2015 amid the doping scandal that enveloped Russian sport. The reinstatement came with the agreement that all data from the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the underlying analytical data generated by the former Moscow Laboratory, which is not under Rusada’s jurisdiction, was retrieved by December 31 last year.

Rusada and the Russian authorities missed this deadline but Wada announced it had successfully received the data in mid-January, leading to it supplying International Federations (IFs) with its first batch of data relating to the Russian investigation in July.

Wada last month said that while “good progress” was being made by its Intelligence and Investigations Department (I&I) in analysing the data retrieved from the Moscow Laboratory, further investigation of inconsistencies led it to open a formal compliance procedure against Rusada. Ensuring the authenticity of the LIMS and underlying raw data was one of the critical conditions imposed by the Wada ExCo for Rusada to be reinstated as Code-compliant in September 2018.

Ganus added that Wada specialists have expressed their doubts that the so-called inconsistencies could have occurred by accident. “Wada specialists say the nature of distortions in the electronic database leave no room for saying they were casual,” he said.

“The suspected distortions in question occurred over the past two years. By October 9 the Russian authorities are not expected to present a discussion agenda or begin negotiations. The deadline has expired. The Russian authorities are expected to present sensible explanations.”