World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) experts have finished retrieving data from a Moscow lab that could lead to sanctions against Russian athletes implicated in the nation’s doping conspiracy.
The data has been transferred out of Russia for analysis, WADA said on Thursday.
WADA president Craig Reedie called it “a major breakthrough for clean sport,” although his organization has not yet confirmed whether the data is genuine or has been tampered with.
WADA must still decide whether to rescind the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s (RUSADA) compliance.
The agency was reinstated in September last year with the caveat that all the data be retrieved from the lab by Dec. 31, but Russia sent WADA experts home empty-handed before the deadline.
The second mission took nine days, more than twice as long as WADA and Russian authorities had predicted, with no explanation given for the delay.
WADA’s compliance review committee is reviewing the case and is to send its recommendation to the executive committee, which would decide RUSADA’s status on Tuesday.
If RUSADA is again stripped of its compliant status, new rules mean Russia could be barred from hosting major international sports events until the situation is resolved.
The previous RUSADA suspension was under old rules that did not allow WADA to influence events such as Russia’s hosting of the FIFA World Cup last year.
According to the Moscow lab’s former director Grigory Rodchenkov, now WADA’s star witness against Russia, the lab was the center of a vast scheme to ensure that Russian elite athletes could dope without risking punishment.
Hundreds of pages of e-mails released by WADA describe a system in which tests were routinely falsified, and Rodchenkov said he personally tampered with samples on orders from the Russian Ministry of Sport for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
WADA is still analyzing what it called an “enormous” backup file from the lab “to ensure it is complete and that it has not been compromised,” Reedie said.
The lab and its data have been sealed off by Russian police, whose own investigation has largely focused on accusing Rodchenkov of lying and tricking innocent athletes into taking banned substances.
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