WADA facing Russia issues as deadline passes
The beleaguered World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was facing major embarrassment last night as Russia looked all but certain to miss the end-of-year deadline to hand over data from its Moscow anti-doping laboratory.
Sanctions against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) were controversially lifted in the autumn on the basis that Wada would be granted full access to its labs by the end of December.
However, there have been a series of delays in recent weeks while Wada claimed it was "ironing out" issues with officials in Moscow over access.
If judicial authorities fail to hand over laboratory data, the agency will again lose its status, raising the prospect of Russia being banned from a second consecutive Olympics and remaining shut out of international athletics.
The Russian minister Pavel Kolobkov said last week that his ministry had received a letter from Wada president Craig Reedie outlining "the options for organising the process of copying the data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory" and specifying equipment to be used.
The delay piles more pressure on Reedie, who had pledged in November that he was "confident" Russia would meet the deadline.
Wada has faced months of fierce criticism from a series of anti-doping organisations and athletes following its decision to reinstate Russia's testing body, which had been suspended since November 2015.
Representatives from the governing body have been holding meetings with the Russian authorities for weeks to secure a full technical inspection.
Last week, Wada admitted its inspection team had been denied full access to the Moscow samples, while experts have yet to return to Russia.
Rusada had been deemed non-compliant since November 2015, with Richard McLaren, a Canadian law professor, subsequently publishing a report revealing that Russian anti-doping officials helped athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs over several years and that government officials assisted in the cover-up of failed tests.