The meeting of the executive committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Tokyo brought disappointing news for domestic sports. In relation to the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), a procedure has been launched for withdrawing compliance status. At the same time, it will be carried out under the accelerated program.
This step in the long term may lead to extremely negative consequences for Russia. We are talking about the deprivation of the right to participate in international competitions, in particular, in the Olympic Games, and to hold competitions on its territory.
The reason for starting a new case was the inconsistency discovered by WADA forensic scientists in two databases of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory - the original, which was seized in January of this year, and a copy of it that fell into the possession of the agency in 2017 from an informant. The information received by WADA is the evidence base for accusing Russian athletes of violating anti-doping rules until 2015, and their full transfer was one of the key conditions for the restoration of RUSADA last year.
WADA gave RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sports a period of three weeks starting September 17 to provide an explanation of the inconsistencies found and to answer a number of questions addressed to them. The response of the Russian side will be analyzed by the WADA compliance committee and will send a recommendation to the executive committee so that it makes a final decision on the status of RUSADA.
“There can be no strict time frames, since it is necessary to ensure compliance with the proper procedural rules, but the executive committee is convinced that WADA is considering this matter with the greatest possible speed,” the statement said after a meeting of the executive committee in Tokyo.
At the same time, WADA will continue to study 47 cases of possible anti-doping rule violations that were identified on the basis of data from the Moscow laboratory, as the discrepancies found do not concern these cases. Earlier, in July, the agency noted that it was investigating 43 athletes. Subsequently, 12 weightlifters were punished, the remaining cases are considered by international sports federations.
RUSADA Deputy General Director Margarita Pakhnotskaya noted that the executive committee did not make crucial decisions regarding the agency. It continues to operate normally and will provide the necessary explanations shortly.
“Now there will be no radical decision, because the Russian side, since last week, has been given three weeks to provide official explanations to the questions that WADA came up with, which analyzed the database that they received with the database that they had at their disposal. This was reported today at the executive committee. Therefore, cardinal decisions today, whether we lose status or not, have not been announced. It was announced that as a result of the investigation inconsistencies were found, details were sent to Russia, we are waiting for a response from the Russian Federation, ”said Pakhnotskaya RIA Novosti.
At the same time, she confirmed that sanctions could be applied to RUSADA in the worst case, although the agency should not be responsible for samples and data transmitted by the WADA Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory.
“There are documents - the international code, standards - according to them, RUSADA is a signatory, and therefore the consequences fall on the shoulders of the agency, although now we are talking about laboratory samples, to which RUSADA has nothing to do - neither the laboratory nor the samples. On the part of RUSADA, it is only possible to try to establish a constructive dialogue with all parties involved in the process. But it’s hard for me to say right away what needs to be done so that the situation changes, ”Pakhnotskaya added.
If after three weeks the explanations of the Russian side seem unconvincing, RUSADA may again lose its status, as it was from 2015 to 2018. At that time, there were no serious sanctions by WADA. The national agency could not independently collect and test doping samples. Only individual international sports federations, at their discretion, took advantage of this reason to remove their Russian members from the competition.
However, in 2018, a new document was adopted called the International Standard for Compliance with the WADA Code for Signatories (ISCCS), in which the sanctions for organizations deprived of compliance are already very significant. If the suspension concerns a national anti-doping agency, then his country is deprived of the right to host and participate in the Olympic Games and other competitions.
Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov, commenting on the latest WADA decision, noted that Russia has fulfilled all obligations to the agency. He promised to assist in finding out the nature and cause of the discrepancies that WADA is so concerned about.
“All the conditions for the restoration of RUSADA, which were established by the WADA Executive Committee on September 20, 2018, are fulfilled. RUSADA and the Ministry of Sports of Russia were to ensure the transfer of data and samples stored in the laboratory. We have done everything in our power. Thanks to this, international federations open cases for some athletes based on information received from WADA. We were informed that the database transferred to WADA by the informant is slightly different from the one the WADA experts took a copy in Moscow in 2019. What exactly are these discrepancies and what are they connected with will be found out by experts in the field of digital technologies from both sides who are already in interaction. For our part, we continue to provide all kinds of assistance, ”said Kolobkov.
Earlier, a number of media outlets stated that the discrepancies between the two databases were allegedly formed as a result of the hacking carried out by the Russian side and further manipulations. WADA in its statement on the basis of the executive committee did not confirm this information, only noting that the reliability of the data and raw information provided is a critical condition for RUSADA to return compliance status.
Although the investigation into RUSADA has not yet been completed and the organizations have been given three weeks to provide answers, a call has already been made to remove the agency. This opinion is shared by the head of the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations Michael Ask.
“I do not want to draw final conclusions about the possible consequences now, but, of course, WADA should again remove RUSADA. Perhaps you should punish the country as a whole, not just the agency. In addition, there are questions to the International Olympic Committee, which at one time was against the collective punishment of Russia, ”Ask said on the eve of the WADA executive committee.
By October 8, when the deadline provided by WADA expires, the fate of RUSADA and Russian athletes preparing to speak at the Tokyo Olympics will have to become clear.