RUSADA looks certain to face second suspension after inspection deadline passes
RUSADA, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, looks certain to face suspension for a second time in the Russian doping scandal that has been raging since 2015, after failing to give full access to the Moscow laboratory at the centre of the scandal to an inspection team from the World Anti-Doping Agency.
In a statement, WADA said that access had not been achieved by the prescribed deadline of 31 December 2018, one of two conditions it had set for RUSADA to retain its certification of compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code.
WADA had come under heavy pressure over its controversial decision in September to end the suspension of RUSADA, without first gaining access to the lab.
Craig Reedie, its president, said: “I am bitterly disappointed that data extraction from the former Moscow Laboratory has not been completed by the date agreed by WADA’s ExCo in September 2018. Since then, WADA has been working diligently with the Russian authorities to meet the deadline, which was clearly in the best interest of clean sport. The process agreed by WADA’s ExCo in September will now be initiated.”
That process involves a formal mission report being submitted by the WADA inspection team to its independent Compliance Review Committee, as a result of which the CRC is expected to recommend that RUSADA is not compliant with the code, leaving WADA with no alternative but to suspend it for a second time.
WADA had earlier said that the inspection was halted “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.”
However, apparently determined to ensure that it remains open to any possibility of completing its inspection, WADA insisted in its statement that, “Given the importance for clean sport of access to, and subsequent authentication and analysis of, the data from the former Moscow Laboratory in order to build strong cases against cheats and exonerate other athletes, WADA experts continue to be ready to proceed with extraction of the data should the issue… be resolved by the Russian authorities.”
It added: “WADA also continues its work with RUSADA, including through the presence of a WADA-commissioned Independent International Expert at RUSADA’s headquarters, to ensure that proper anti-doping activities, in particular testing, are being carried out in Russia.”
The lab has been closed since the Russian doping scandal broke in 2015. It was alleged to have been part of a sophisticated conspiracy to open apparently sealed sample bottles and substitute clean urine for urine showing evidence of use of banned performance-enhancing drugs.