WADA team returns to Moscow for lab info
Montreal - A three-person World Anti-Doping Agency team will arrive in Moscow on Wednesday to obtain laboratory doping test data after Russian authorities missed a deadline to provide the information.
The mission announced Monday comes after WADA's athletes committee last week demanded Russia suffer new sanctions for missing a December 31 deadline to provide data from its drug-tainted Moscow lab.
WADA will consider its next step in the long-running saga at a January 14-15 meeting of its compliance committee, but the athletes want Russia found in non-compliance.
"Anything less will be considered a failure by WADA to act on behalf of clean athletes," a statement from the committee said.
After a recommendation from the meeting, WADA's executive committee will meet by conference call "in the following days" to decide Russia's athletic fate, according to a WADA statement.
Should WADA executives find Russia non-compliant and the Russians want to dispute the ruling, RUSADA would have 21 days to notify WADA and the matter would go before the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
WADA says analysis of data from the Moscow lab is crucial to building strong cases against dope cheats and potentially exonerating other athletes suspected of being part of a systemic state-sponsored doping operation in Russia.
"We are continuing to act on the basis of the 31 December deadline having been missed, with all the consequences that failure could bring," WADA president Craig Reedie said.
"This week's mission to Moscow is not only about us following due process and precedent. If the mission is successful in acquiring the data, it will break a long impasse and will potentially lead to many cases being actioned."
In September, WADA conditionally lifted a ban on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), paving the way for Russian athletes to return to competition across all sports. But one of the conditions was data access by the end of 2018.
A five-person WADA team went to Russia from December 17-21 but left empty handed after Russian authorities raised issues with the certification of WADA equipment under Russian law.
"That issue has since been resolved by the Russian authorities," a WADA statement said.
Compliance review committee chair Jonathan Taylor said a non-compliance declaration is considered a "last resort" and the committee "regularly receives late information from signatories ahead of its meetings, which may or may not demonstrate compliance with the outstanding requirements."
WADA's leadership has been strongly criticised over its decision to lift Russia's suspension before obtaining access to the Moscow lab information.
"It's time for WADA to stop being played by the Russians and immediately declare them non-compliant for failing yet again to meet the deadline," US Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart said.
The IAAF, world governing body for athletics, said it would maintain Russia's ban. Russian athletics teams were barred from the 2016 Rio Olympics and 2017 World Championships in London.