Russia 'not compliant' over doping as Olympics loom

Last Updated 16 November 2017, 10:10 IST

Russia moved a step closer to being barred from the Winter Olympics in February when the World Anti-Doping Agency declined to lift its suspension of Moscow's national anti-doping body on Thursday.

In a blow to Russia, the World Anti-Doping Agency maintained its suspension of the Russian body, RUSADA, which it first imposed in 2015 as evidence emerged of widespread cheating.

WADA's decision comes before the International Olympic Committee's executive board meets next month to consider whether Russia can compete at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

The independent McLaren report has detailed a state-sponsored doping conspiracy from 2011 to 2015, culminating at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where the hosts topped the medals table.

"We do not have the right to decide who takes part in international competition," WADA president Craig Reedie told reporters following a Foundation Board meeting in Seoul.

"The major event-holder has that right. We regret that RUSADA is not yet compliant. Technically, they have improved hugely since compliance was removed.

"But having set a roadmap for compliance, there are two issues that have to be fulfilled and we can't walk away from the commitments we have from that roadmap."

WADA has demanded that Russia accept the findings of the McLaren report and allow access to urine samples stored at its Moscow laboratory as part of its "road map" back to compliance.

The report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren accuses Russia's secret service and sports ministry of orchestrating a plot that included using a "mousehole" to switch dirty samples at the Sochi doping laboratory.

Russia admits failings in its doping system but denies any state involvement, instead blaming officials at RUSADA and the Moscow laboratory.

"We accept the fact our national anti-doping system has failed... (but) we absolutely deny a state-sponsored doping system," Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov said in Seoul.

He added that an unconditional recognition of the McLaren report "is impossible".

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov pointed to improvements within RUSADA and insisted it was independent of state control as he pleaded for the agency to be reinstated.

"RUSADA performs all functions within the World Anti-Doping Code," he said. "I guarantee RUSADA will be fully independent, it is a totally new organisation."

"We are ready to go forward and work openly in the full standards of WADA. Please let us be compliant."

Progress has been made and WADA has already partially lifted its ban on RUSADA, giving it the right to collect samples. It also audited the body in September.

But suspicions remain. Foundation Board member Adam Pengilly asked how WADA could "trust" Russia's new anti-doping regime "until there is a real acknowledgement of what happened?"

Last week, WADA also said it had obtained an "enormous" internal database of Russian drug test results from 2012-2015.

Despite WADA's refusal to readmit Russia, it may not be fatal to the country's chances of competing in Pyeongchang.

In 2016, the IOC ignored WADA's calls to ban Russia from the Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over the McLaren report, instead leaving the decision to individual sports bodies.

Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritius were also declared non-compliant at the WADA meeting.

(Published 16 November 2017, 10:08 IST)

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