KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- An end may be in sight to world sport’s confusion over the Russian doping scandal.
The World Anti-Doping Agency’s independent compliance review committee has recommended that the executive committee should vote next Thursday to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).
A pre-exco conference call reviewed a letter from the Russian Ministry of Sport and was satisfied that this letter sufficiently acknowledged the issues identified in Russia, therefore fulfilling the first of the two outstanding criteria of RUSADA’s ‘roadmap to compliance.’
For the second outstanding criterion, the CRC accepted that the new commitment to provide access to the data and samples in the Moscow laboratory to WADA via an independent expert would be sufficient to justify reinstatement, provided that the ExCo imposes a clear timeline for such access.
A WADA statement said: “While WADA does not usually communicate CRC recommendations prior to their consideration by the exco, the agency decided to do so in this case given the level of interest surrounding the matter and the amount of speculation.
“It is important to note that, since RUSADA was declared non-compliant by WADA in November 2015, the agency, the Russian authorities and partners have been working very hard to rebuild a credible, and sustainable, anti-doping program in Russia; and that, there have been significant developments across their anti-doping system.”
In 2015 a report which WADA had commissioned from Canadian law professor Richard McLaren identified no fewer than 30 sports – most notably athletics and then weightlifting – ‘owning’ 580 negative dope tests processed through the Moscow laboratory with what he described as a ‘disappearing positive methodology.’
Along the way McLaren pointed a finger of suspicion at then-Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko (who was also then a member of the FIFA and UEFA governing committees and president of football’s 2018 World Cup organising committee).
McLaren named deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh and chief anti-doping advisor Natalia Zhelanova as central to this scheme. Both subsequently lost their jobs.
However Russia was allowed by the International Olympic Committee to compete in most sports – with the notable exception above all of athletics – at the 2026 Rio Olympic Games. However, Russian competitors were permitted to compete only as ‘neutral athletes’ at this year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang.
The IOC, which has been upset with the hard line taken by WADA and its own president Sir Craig Reedie, is desperate to have the Russian scandal ‘put to bed’ ahead of the 2020 summer Games in Tokyo.