KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS:  WADA’s contentious reinstatement of the Russian anti-doping agency is back in the balance after the thwarting of its latest mission to Moscow.

A statement from the World Anti-Doping Agency – some of whose own senior members questioned moves to end the three-year stalemate – has revealed that a five-strong inquiry team was blocked in its work in the Russian  capital by unexpected red tape.

The team charged with accessing data from the old Moscow laboratory at the heart of the cover-up scandal was led by Spanish expert Dr Toni Pascual.

A WADA statement said:

The team had arrived in Moscow on 17 December and was tasked with accessing the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the underlying data from the former Moscow Laboratory as per the conditions of WADA’s 20 September Executive Committee (ExCo) decision, which reinstated the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to the list of World Anti-Doping Code-compliant Signatories.

The team accessed the laboratory and progress was made with the Russian authorities regarding extraction and export of the data outside Russia.

However, the team was unable to complete its mission within the prescribed time due to an issue raised by the Russian authorities that the team’s equipment to be used for the data extraction was required to be certified under Russian law.

This issue had not been raised during an initial meeting on 28 November in Moscow, after which WADA sent its expert team back to Moscow to retrieve the data.

The Russian authorities have until December 31 to comply with WADA’s work otherwise the prospects are bleak.

Pascual is due to report back to WADA’s compliance review committee on January 14 and 15 when “the CRC’s recommendation will then be considered by the ExCo.”

Given the latest twist to the tale in Moscow it is hard to see how WADA and its president, Sir Craig Reedie, can do anything but take a step back.

Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, had expected that the doping and cover-up saga would be history by the time of the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2020.

The prospects are suddenly not so bright.