20 September 2018

WADA Executive Committee votes to reinstate RUSADA

The 12-person Executive Committee (ExCo) of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has voted to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code at its meeting today in The Seychelles. It is understood that nine of the 12 members of WADA’s Executive Committee voted to reinstate RUSADA. WADA’s Vice President, Linda Hofstad Helleland and one other member voted against reinstatement, and one member abstained from voting. 

“Today, the great majority of WADA’s ExCo decided to reinstate RUSADA as compliant with the Code subject to strict conditions, upon recommendation by the Agency’s independent CRC [Compliance Review Committee] and in accordance with an agreed process”, read a statement from WADA President, Sir Craig Reedie, posted on Twitter (see below). “This decision provides a clear timeline by which WADA must be given access to the former Moscow laboratory data and samples with a clear commitment by the ExCo that should this timeline not be met, it would support the CRC’s recommendation to reinstate non-compliance”.

As previously reported by The Sports Integrity Initiative, the recommendation is conditional on:

• RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport providing to WADA the authentic Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) from the Moscow Laboratory by a set date; and
• RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport ensuring that re-testing of samples stored at the Moscow Laboratory required by WADA following analysis of the LIMS data is completed no later than six months after the set date referred to above.

Details have yet to be forthcoming on whether WADA has set a date by which it must be provided the LIMS from the Moscow Laboratory. Russian authorities have refused to provide the LIMS database to WADA since the Laboratory was suspended in November 2015, arguing that an investigation by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SKR or Sledcom) prevents it from doing so. The SKR also argues that a copy of the LIMS database supplied to WADA by Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former Director of the Moscow Laboratory, is unreliable.

The relevant passage from the IOC’s Schmid Report…

As previously reported, the same SKR will also manage WADA’s access to the urine samples that have been stored at the Moscow Laboratory since it was suspended in November 2015. The conclusions of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Schmid Report, based on the conclusions of the two Reports produced by Richard McLaren for WADA, were that ‘a number of individuals within the Ministry of Sport and its subordinated entities’ were involving in manipulating the anti-doping system in Russia. As both the LIMS database and the samples that remain in the Moscow Laboratory have been in the sole possession of Russian State authorities for almost three years, whether their authenticity has been compromised remains subject to question. 

RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport have yet to comment on today’s decision, which was welcomed by the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) as the first step towards its own reinstatement. “It’s nice that one of the key points in the roadmap to restore RusAF was performed”, said RusAF President Dmitry Shlyakhtin in a statement. “RusAF will continue to work and communicate with the IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] Working Group on the full recovery of RusAF. Frankly, it is good news and RUSADA’s recovery – of course – adds optimism.”

The restoration of RUSADA was one of a number of conditions that the Working Group of the IAAF specified RusAF must meet before Russian athletes that fall under its jurisdiction can be restored to international competition. The conditions that still must be met, as outlined at a July 2018 meeting, were that:

1. RusAF reimburse the IAAF for all costs relating to the suspension of RusAF;
2. An ‘appropriate official response’ to the McLaren Reports must be received from RusAF.
3. Russian authorities must provide the information and access required by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to resolve the suspicious findings set out in the LIMS database.

“The outcome of today’s WADA meeting is deeply troubling for clean sport”, read an emailed statement from Nicole Sapstead, Chief Executive of UK Anti-Doping (UKAD). “WADA has cast aside its responsibilities to clean athletes, sports fans and those who work tirelessly for clean sport. This meeting was an opportunity to postpone this decision to give all relevant parties enough time to put forward their views. We cannot understand the urgency to make a decision.

“Over the last week, the world’s athletes have made their voice clear. Today individual sports administrators have spoken.

“Fundamental questions remain unanswered in respect of the conditions for reinstatement of Russia. Is the LIMS data from the Moscow laboratory still in existence? Can this data be verified as legitimate and uncorrupted? Will athlete samples needing reanalysis be provided? Will WADA’s analysis seek to clarify any evidence of tampering? If the conditions of reinstatement are not met and Russia faces non-compliance, will the goal-posts be moved again?”

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