WADA panel set to rule on doping data as visit drags on
MOSCOW (AP) — World Anti-Doping Agency inspectors’ bid to obtain doping data will head into a sixth day in the Russian capital as a WADA panel prepares to rule whether Russia has kept its word on the issue.
WADA reinstated the Russian anti-doping agency in September — against protests from numerous Western athletes and sports groups — on condition Russia provided the data. The information could allow WADA to charge top Russian athletes with past drug offenses.
After Russia missed a Dec. 31 deadline, WADA allowed it to turn over the files in time for a WADA Compliance Review Committee meeting Monday and Tuesday in Montreal.
WADA said Sunday that its team, which arrived in Moscow on Wednesday, “is still in the lab collecting the data.”
WADA and Russian officials originally said the visit was likely to take no more than three days. Neither side has explained the extension.
The delay could mean little or no time before the committee meets to analyze what Russia has actually handed over — or to check for possible forgeries.
The WADA committee will make an influential recommendation on whether to suspend the Russian agency, known as RUSADA, but the final call will be made by WADA’s board on Jan. 22.
RUSADA’s CEO Yuri Ganus told The Associated Press on Friday that he favors the data being made available as soon as possible so Russia can finally start to put years of doping scandals behind it.
“We’re actually deeply concerned that it should be in Russia’s interest to open the laboratory as soon as possible,” he said.
Russian law enforcement, which has sealed off the lab and its data, turned away an earlier WADA team last month after objecting to its equipment.
WADA suspended Russia in 2015 after finding evidence of widespread cover-ups of drug use by Russian athletes. Further investigations alleged the Russian state coordinated doping over years — a charge the Kremlin denies.
That led to Russia officially being barred from last year’s Winter Olympics, though 168 competed under the name “Olympic Athletes from Russia,” with two of those disqualified after testing positive.