KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The latest disciplinary round in the long-running Russian doping saga has seen the World Anti-Doping Agency suspend, provisionally, its approval of the Moscow laboratory central to the scandal.

This is the first major action undertaken since Witold Banka took over the presidency of WADA since the retirement of Sir Craig Reedie at the end of last year.

A WADA statement explained:

This provisional suspension prohibits the Moscow Laboratory from carrying out any work related to the analysis of blood samples in connection with the Athlete Biological Passport programme and will remain in place pending disciplinary proceedings to be carried out by an independent Disciplinary Committee. 

On 21 January 2020, the WADA Laboratory Expert Group (LabEG) made a recommendation to the Chair of the Executive Committee (ExCo), Witold Bańka, to impose a provisional suspension in application of the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL), and Mr. Bańka agreed to do so with immediate effect.

Under the terms of the ISL, a Disciplinary Committee will be mandated to make a recommendation to Mr. Bańka regarding the status of the laboratory’s ABP approval.   This step was taken in light of the ExCo decision of 9 December 2019 that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) again be declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code due to the discovery by WADA of manipulation of some of the data extracted from the Moscow Laboratory in January 2019, in breach of the conditions of RUSADA’s reinstatement in September 2018.

The LabEG considered the intentional alteration and deletion of laboratory data prior to and during the time it was being forensically copied by WADA as a serious violation of the Code of Ethics of the ISL.   

Originally WADA revoked the Moscow lab’s full accreditation in 2015 after the exposure of Russia’s institutionalised doping and cover-up program.