The Russian anti-doping agency could face suspension again based on information indicating data from the Moscow drug-testing lab had been manipulated before being delivered to the World Anti-Doping Agency earlier this year, a person familiar with the case told The Associated Press.
WADA reinstated Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA) after gaining access to long-sought-after data that was to be used to confirm doping positives stemming from the country’s plans to cheat so athletes could win medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics and other events.
Handing over the data was among the critical requirements for the reinstatement, and WADA extended a Dec. 31, 2018, deadline by more than two weeks, then deemed its negotiations a success when it received the data.
But eight months later, and with the Tokyo Olympics less than a year away, there is a report indicating the data might have been manipulated before it was handed over, according the person familiar with the report, who spoke to AP but requested anonymity because the report had not been made public.
WADA’s compliance review committee is expected to present the information to the agency’s executive committee, which meets Monday in Tokyo. Track and field’s governing body, the IAAF, and the organization that handles its doping cases, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), are also expected to review the information while in Doha, Qatar, next week for track world championships.
The IAAF will receive a report — one that could include this information — from a task force that has upheld the Russian track team’s suspension from international competition 11 times since its federation was first banned in June 2016. Worlds start next Friday, and at least 29 Russians are slated to compete as neutral athletes.
A RUSADA on solid footing was thought to be a cornerstone requirement for Russia’s return to the international sports world after a scandal that sullied two Olympics, along with the reputations of both WADA and the International Olympic Committee, which critics — especially in the West — deemed as going too soft on the Russians.
This latest news could lead to RUSADA again being deemed noncompliant, though the long-term repercussions of such a move are hard to gauge, especially with the IOC having placed Russia’s Olympic committee back in good standing after the Pyeongchang Olympics last year.
One theory is that because the revamped and reinstated RUSADA has been meeting testing benchmarks set for it by WADA, and because it didn’t have anything to do with the manipulation of the data, it could have a good chance of winning a case in front of the Court of Arbitration for Sport. If manipulation is proven, WADA would also have to decide whether it could win cases against Russians with data that is now unreliable.
The samples the doping Russian athletes provided to testers aren’t enough to convict in most cases because their drug-tainted urine was replaced by clean samples. That’s why the Moscow lab data was considered critical to prosecuting the cases.
WADA has been handing over most of the evidence to international sports federations. WADA president Craig Reedie recently said he expected around 100 new Russian cases to be brought.
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