On 20 September 2018, athletes and sports fans alike were left in shock following the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) controversial decision to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) as compliant following allegations of mass state-sponsored doping.
However, this reinstatement was not without conditions: one of those being that RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport had to provide access to all the stored samples and electronic data in the former Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory by no later than 31 December 2018. The premise of this, was that the sooner WADA were able to access the samples, the sooner Russian athletes could be implicated or exonerated.
However, on 21 December 2018, WADA confirmed that the team tasked with accessing the data was ‘unable to complete its mission within the prescribed time due to an issue raised by the Russian authorities that the team’s equipment to be used for the data extraction was required to be certified under Russia law.’
The formal deadline was passed on 31 December 2018, leaving WADA with no option but to refer the issue to its Compliance Review Committee (CRC), who will meet on 14-15 January 2019 to consider next steps. The CRC are expected to provide a recommendation to the WADA Executive Committee which could result in Russia facing renewed sporting sanctions.
WADA commented yesterday:
"We are extremely disappointed that the Dec 31 deadline imposed on Russia by WADA has not been adhered to by the Russian authorities. We now expect that following the process recommended by the CRC that Russia will be declared non-compliant. Only this action will be suitable and appropriate in the view of the athletes."
On the same day, the Athletes Commission of the UK Anti-Doping Agency called for RUSADA to again be declared non-compliant and suspended:
"The Russian State need to prove unequivocally that they have learned from the biggest doping scandal under WADA’s watch, and that they will for this date forward be committed to a drug free, transparent regime across international sport… [WADA] should only consider a declaration of compliance once WADA has received and verified the electronic data as well as access to all the samples in the Moscow Laboratory.
In the name of sport, it is time to do what is right."
I will be amongst many who will be eagerly awaiting the recommendation made by the CRC to WADA’s executive committee later this month and whether it appears to preserve the bests interests of clean sport.