News 2nd January 2019

Russia misses deadline to provide Moscow Laboratory data to WADA

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed that Russia has missed its 31 December deadline to provide access to data held at the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory, to which the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SKR or Sledcom) has refused access since launching a June 2016 investigation into Russian doping. The provision of access to the Moscow Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and its underlying data by 31 December was one of the conditions outlined by WADA in its 20 September decision to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). As such, WADA’s Compliance Review Committee (CRC) will make a recommendation to WADA’s Executive Committee about whether RUSADA should be re-suspended at its 14/15 January meeting.

WADA’s statement hinted that the CRC’s recommendation could be influenced by whether it is able to retrieve the data it requires ahead of that meeting. ‘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 continued to be ready to proceed with extraction of the data should the issue reported upon on 21 December be resolved by the Russian authorities’, read its statement. ‘WADA will update the CRC of any progress in this regard at the CRC 14-15 January meeting’.

On 21 December, WADA announced that its five person team was retuning from Moscow as the equipment it planned to use to extract and export the Laboratory data outside of Russia required certification from the Russian authorities. ‘This issue had not been raised during an initial meeting on 28 November in Moscow’, read WADA’s statement. 

A WADA statement following the 28 November meeting outlined that ‘outstanding points’ needed clarification before its five person team could leave for Moscow. In December, WADA declined to answer questions from The Sports Integrity Initiative about these points. ‘We have communicated the exact situation in this regard to the Russian authorities’, wrote a WADA spokesperson in an email. ‘They are aware of our position and hopefully will respond very shortly’.

On 26 December Pavel Kolobkov, Russia’s Minister of Sport, suggested that WADA’s team went beyond the remit agreed at that 28 November meeting. “Russia is ready to provide a copy fo the database in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation”, he told Russia24 in an interview published on the RusAF internet site. “It remains for us to agree on some of the technical details, including the use of specific equipment. When the experts came, they showed us all of the equipment, offered to copy the database and even take it. In fact, this unique situation did not exist before – the investigative committee took unprecedented measures. So now we interact with WADA and I am sure that we will find common ground and adopt solutions that meet the Russian legislative requirements and satisfy WADA, as that is in all of our interests.”

‘The situation is a total joke and an embarrassment for WADA and the global anti-doping system’, read a statement from Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). ‘In September, WADA secretly moved the goal posts and reinstated Russia against the wishes of athletes, governments and the public. In doing this, WADA guaranteed Russia would turn over the evidence of its State-supported doping scheme by today. No one is surprised this deadline was ignored and 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. We hold athletes strictly accountable, so States that intentionally rob clean athletes and corrupt the Olympic values – through the worst doping scandal in sporting history no less – should also be held accountable.’

The International Standard for Code Compliance for Signatories (ISCCS) was launched partly in response to the manipulation of the doping control system that occurred in Russia. WADA has previously argued that it failed to act on various whistleblower reports dating back to 2010 about what was occurring in Russia firstly because it did not have enough information; and, secondly, because it did not have the necessary sanctioning tools to take action.

Article 11 of the ISCCS outlines that where a national anti-doping organisation (NADO) is found not to be in compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code, the following sanctions can be implemented:

• international events due to be hosted by that NADO’s country can be re-assigned;
• Funding from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) can be withdrawn;
• It can be recommended that public authority funding be withdrawn;
• Recognition by the Olympic/Paralympic movement can be withdrawn;
• Officials can be excluded from attending international events.

“If the Russian authorities continue to refuse access and do not meet our deadlines, then RUSADA will again be declared non-compliant under the ISCCS that offers a much more robust legal framework and a clear process”, said WADA President Sir Craig Reedie when reinstating RUSADA on 20 September. The CRC will meet on 14/15 January, after which it will make a recommendation to the WADA Executive Committee. It is understood that the next WADA Executive Committee meeting is scheduled to take place at the WADA Annual Symposium from 13-14 March. 

As such, we may have to wait until then to see if: 

• Reedie will follow through with his threat;
• If the ISCCS sanctions are enough to force Russia to change its position regarding access to the Moscow Laboratory;
• Whether anything changes in the meantime.

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