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WADA Urged to ‘Immediately’ Declare Russia Non-Compliant as Global Response to Missed Deadline Heats Up

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By James Diamond |

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been urged to immediately declare the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) non-compliant again as global condemnation continued after a crucial deadline to hand over data from the Moscow Laboratory lapsed. 

RUSADA, banned since 2015, was brought back into the fold in September on the condition that it allow access to the laboratory by December 31.

WADA wanted to retrieve data from the facility’s Laboratory Information Management System, which is thought to contain damning evidence of Russian cheating amid the country’s wider doping scandal.

Their team were turned away from Moscow empty-handed, however, and yesterday the global anti-doping body confirmed the deadline had been missed. 

The body’s President Sir Craig Reedie claimed he was “bitterly disappointed” after Russian authorities blocked the data extraction as “equipment was not certified under the country’s law.”

In response, UK Anti-Doping’s (UKAD) Athletes’ Committee, chaired by rower Sarah Winckless, has now released a statement saying RUSADA should be re-declared non-compliant immediately.

WADA’s independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) are due to discuss the matter at a meeting on January 14 and 15 in Montreal in Canada but critics say this is too late.

“Unfortunately, the Russian Government has clearly not fulfilled its promise [to allow access to the lab],” the UKAD statement said.

“In a public statement the WADA President Sir Craig Reedie 100 per cent guaranteed that the Russian Government would comply with WADA’s compromised terms.

“These terms have not been met.

“The Russian state need to prove unequivocally that they have learned from the biggest doping scandal under WADA’s watch, and that they will for this date forward be committed to a drug-free, transparent regime across international sport.

“Otherwise the WADA Compliance Review Committee and the WADA Executive Committee must now, immediately, declare RUSADA non-compliant.

“They should only consider a declaration of compliance once WADA has received and verified the electronic data as well as access to all the samples in the Moscow Laboratory.”

Sir Craig’s now infamous comment that he could “100 percent guarantee” Russia would play ball has now come to cause both him, and WADA more generally, embarrassment, with many critics claiming it was clear this would happen.

Others to have weighed in on the situation include FairSport, the independent foundation with the self-professed aim to eradicate doping in sport,who say it is now time for WADA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “to listen to athletes.”

“We call on WADA to do what is right by the athletes, their families, their fans and their sport,” they said.

United States Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart has called the situation “a joke” and four-time Olympic rowing champion for Great Britain, Sir Matthew Pinsent, highlighted how “dozens of athletes” are still waiting to receive their rightful medals following the Russian doping scandal.

IOC President Thomas Bach has caused added controversy by hinting in his end of year address that Russia may face no further punishment from the IOC even if WADA does declare them non-compliant again.

“With its suspension from the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, the Russian Olympic Committee has served its sanction, while in other organizations procedures are still ongoing,” he said.

However, while criticism of both WADA and the IOC has once again been strong, just like in September it has come almost exclusively from the western world.

Sport Ireland released a statement calling on WADA to take a firm stance.

They also criticized IOC President Bach for his comments.

“As has been the case from the outset of this ordeal, there has been a continual shift of the goalposts in relation to the reinstatement of Russia’s compliance,” chief executive John Treacy said.

“That there has been yet another roadblock put in place by Russia is not a surprise and now it is time for WADA to take strong action, convene a meeting of the Compliance Review Committee without delay and declare them non-compliant until such time as all conditions have been met in full.

“Anything less than this will have a devastating impact on the anti-doping system.”

Treacy claimed Bach’s comments show that the IOC should not be involved in decision making regarding anti-doping.

“Comments made yesterday by the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, which are extremely unhelpful, demonstrate why the IOC are out of touch with athletes,” he said.

“The comments also underline why the IOC should not be involved in the decision making when it comes to matters of anti-doping.

“It is now up to WADA to act decisively and quickly, otherwise there will be no consequence for a country that has been proven to operate a systematic doping regime.”

Ireland’s National Anti-Doping Agency is one of 16 to have released a joint statement on the issue, saying that the anti-doping world expects a “decisive response” and that the CRC should be convened without “further delay.”

“After more than three years of review, indecision and compromise in response to the worst doping scandal in the history of sport, the time has come to demonstrate that no individual nor nation is exempt from compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code,” the statement reads.

“NADO leaders implore WADA to use its full authority and resources to expedite this matter.

It has been backed by countries including Austria, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands and Singapore.

The CRC is due to recommend a course of action to the WADA Executive Committee after their Montreal meeting.

WADA said they had written to Russia’s Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov, and the director general of RUSADA, Yury Ganus, to “officially notify them of the situation.”

They appeared to throw Russia a lifeline that another ban can be avoided, however, if the laboratory information is provided to WADA by the time of the CRC meeting.

“Given the importance for clean sport of access to, and subsequent authentication and analysis of, the data from the former Moscow Laboratory in order to build strong cases against cheats and exonerate other athletes, WADA experts continue to be ready to proceed with extraction of the data should the issue reported upon on 21 December be resolved by the Russian authorities,” they said.

RUSADA’s three-year suspension began in November 2015 following allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

Revelations of more widespread cheating at events including the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi then emerged and the International Olympic Committee forced Russia to compete under a neutral flag at Pyeongchang 2018 in February.

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.

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