Russia avoid further Wada sanctions despite missing deadline
Wada warns Russia that they may still face a ban for Tokyo 2020 in data was tampered with
A sign on a wall of a building which houses the Russian Anti-Doping Agency in Moscow. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/EPA
Russia has avoided further sanctions from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) despite missing by more than a fortnight a December 31st deadline to provide doping data from its Moscow laboratory.
However, Russia has been warned it faces being banned from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and prohibited from hosting international sporting events if there is any evidence that the lab data – which was retrieved last week – has been tampered with.
Wada’s executive committee was heavily criticised in September when it decided to lift the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s (Rusada) suspension despite Russia continuing to deny its involvement in a massive state-sponsored doping operation.
However the Wada president, Craig Reedie, insisted that the “significant progress” made since – including the acquisition of more than 20 terabytes of data from the Moscow lab which could help to prosecute potentially hundreds of doping cases – had justified the decision.
“Collecting the all-important data is a critical step and it was not easy to achieve,” Reedie said. “We are not yet at the finishing line but undeniably we are much further along the track than we would have been without the September executive committee decision.
“We are now proceeding to the second phase, namely authenticating the data retrieved from the Moscow laboratory so that ultimately we can use it to catch more athletes who cheated and to exonerate others.”
Reedie described the criticism he has faced from many anti-doping groups and athletes, who believe he has been too soft on Russia, as “wearying” but insisted recent events had vindicated his decisions.
“We will not be deterred from this mission, which we firmly believe is in the best interests of clean sport and of athletes worldwide,” he said.
Meanwhile Wada’s director of investigations, Gunter Younger, promised that his department was now in a “very good position” to prosecute Russian doping cases after getting the Moscow lab data.
“We had already identified the most suspicious cases,” he said. “We just needed the last piece of the puzzle, which was the raw lab data.”
He also promised his department would examine the lab data closely for signs of manipulation. “It is very complicated to falsify individual documents, but we are not naive.”
Jonathan Taylor, the head of Wada’s compliance review committee, said the “toughest possible sanctions” would be imposed on Russia if tampering was confirmed.
“These will very likely include that Russia may not be granted any right to host any World Championships in any sport for a specified period; and that no Russian officials, athletes or athlete support personnel will be permitted to participate in the 2020 Olympic or Paralympic Games,” he wrote in a letter to Wada director general Olivier Niggli. – Guardian