MONTREAL: World Anti-Doping Agency leaders believe that they are making slow but steady progress towards bringing Russia back into the fold.

One key element they are expecting to see is the imminent removal of Yelenba Isinbayeva from her role as chair of the supervisory board of RUSADA. The former pole vault world and Olympic champion┬áhave been a noted ‘refusenik’ concerning the doping cover-up scandal revealed by media and then WADA investigations.

A report on Russia’s reinstatement was delivered by WADA deputy director general Rob Koehler at a foundation board meeting in Montreal.

When asked by former WADA president member Dick Pound of the status of “the person about whom everyone has complained,” Koehler replied: “To be very clear, as of the MAy 31, the person will be gone.”

Isinbayeva ws not named directly but she is understood to have been the subject of the exchange.

WADA president Craig Reedie also reported that “there has been a huge amount of work done. WADA will decide, based on the conditions set, whether RUSADA is able to resume its testing programme.”

The agency remains under pressure to ensure that its anti-doping leaders are independent, free of “all concerns about conflicts of interest”, and finally allow technicians who conduct anti-doping tests to have access to all cities so far closed to visitors.

June target

Reedie thought RUSADA could, “if all goes well”, resume its activities in early June. But a change of governance was essential. Hence the removal of Isinbayeva.

In other decisions WADA is moving towards the creation of an Anti-Doping Testing Authority in time for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. It would be managed by a five-member board drawn from the IOC, international federations and athletes’ bodies.

However the organisation’s value and status is in question since membership would be only voluntary.

** Katowice in Poland will host the fifth World Conference on Doping in Sport in 2019.