WADA to return to Moscow lab in search of elusive data

              FILE - In this file photo taken on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, Russian National Anti-doping Agency RUSADA head Yuri Ganus leaves the office in Moscow, Russia. The head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency has asked President Vladimir Putin for help in getting key doping data released to World Anti-Doping Agency inspectors.  Ganus in a letter released Thursday. Dec. 27, 2018 appealed to Putin to reverse the decision and allow to hand over the data to WADA inspectors. Ganus warned that the refusal to do so would hurt Russia’s efforts to clean up its sports from doping.(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko, File)

MOSCOW (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency is returning to the Moscow anti-doping lab this week in hopes of obtaining data it did not receive before a Dec. 31 deadline.

The Russians were supposed to turn over the data as part of an agreement to reinstate Russia’s anti-doping agency. But WADA officials were turned away last month when Russia raised a late objection that the equipment they brought was not certified according to Russian law.

A WADA committee is scheduled to consider reimposing the ban next week, but that could be forestalled if WADA’s experts obtain the data during their visit on Wednesday. Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told state news agencies on Monday “all the technical issues have been straightened out.”

The committee chairman, Jonathan Taylor, says declaring the Russians noncompliant is “a last resort” that is to be pursued only after “every opportunity to comply” has been presented.

Dozens of athletes and athlete groups called for RUSADA’s immediate suspension following the missed deadline.

U.S. Anti-Doping Agency CEO Travis Tygart said the latest news “appears to be the sequel to the cat-and-mouse game between WADA and Russia we have unfortunately come to expect.”

“We are all holding our breath as to how this one will end come Jan. 9 and whether WADA will be finally given the data on the roughly 9,000 presumptive positive tests results on over 4,000 Russian athletes that hopefully have not been destroyed,” Tygart said.

WADA says the data could be crucial to building doping cases against Russian athletes who doped in past years. Russia has also agreed to turn over stored drug-test samples to be analyzed before a June 30 deadline.

Reinstating the ban could allow WADA to impose tougher penalties on Russia under new rules that could bar the country from hosting major international competitions. RUSADA chief executive Yuri Ganus said Russian sport was “standing on the edge of the abyss” in a letter last month to President Vladimir Putin pleading for the Russian state to cooperate more with WADA.