22nd December 2018

WADA blocked from extracting data from Moscow Laboratory

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has been blocked from completing its mission to extract data from the Moscow Laboratory by Russian authorities, which told a five person WADA team that the equipment used to extract the data 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’, pointed out a WADA statement.

However, WADA added that ‘progress was made’ with Russian authorities regarding the extraction of the data and its export outside of Russia. ‘In light of the progress that has been made – and the importance of obtaining this data in order to implicate or exonerate athletes – WADA’s expert team stands ready to proceed with the full data extraction should the matter be resolved by Russia expeditiously’, continued the statement.

Russia has nine days to allow WADA to complete its mission. WADA’s 20 September decision to reinstate RUSADA outlined that ‘RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport must procure that the authentic Information Management System (LIMS) data and underlying analytical data of the former Moscow Laboratory set out in the WADA President’s letter of 22 June 2018 are received by WADA (via access to the data by an independent expert agreeable to both WADA and the Russian authorities) by no later than 31 December 2018.’

However meeting that deadline may be difficult, as yesterday evening’s statement outlined that WADA’s five person team, led by Dr. José Antonio (Toni) Pascual, is returning from its mission to Russia. It will provide a formal Report to WADA’s Compliance Review Committee (CRC) that will be considered at a meeting of the CRC from 14-15 January, after which a recommendation on RUSADA’s compliance will be provided to WADA’s Executive Committee.

Russia’s Minister for Sport, Pavel Kolobkov, appears to have a differing interpretation of WADA’s 31 December deadline. “The conditions must be met before 30 June”, he told Sport Express in an interview published on the Ministry of Sport’s internet site, in answer to a question about the deadline. “We are now talking about the interim requirements…we just have to comply with the procedural rules because, do not forget, for several years we have been conducting a criminal investigation concerning possible violations involving the Moscow Laboratory. It is complicated by the fact that a number of the defendants did not get in touch and do not testify. But now we have a chance to collectively establish the truth.” The Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SKR or Sledcom) has refused WADA access to the Laboratory, its underlying data, or its ‘authentic’ copy of the LIMS database since June 2016, when it launched its criminal investigation. 

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