The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has confirmed their three-person team has started work to retrieve crucial data from the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s (RUSADA) Laboratory in Moscow and have reported “no issues” so far.
In a statement sent to insidethegames the global anti-doping body confirmed their team have successfully gained access to the facility in the Russian capital and have begun retrieving data from the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS).
WADA had initially hoped to take control of the LIMS before a December 31 deadline, on the assumption it will help catch more cheats.
According to Russian state news agency TASS, Russia’s Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov has said several Russian officials are also working alongside WADA in the lab.
“WADA experts arrived yesterday and today they have started their work jointly with a group of Russian experts,” he said.
“Representatives of the Russian Investigative Committee and of the laboratory are also participating in this process.
“They have started work on the installation of the equipment and of the data transfer block.
“The work is done under a complete coordination as we have previously discussed all technical and organisational details, which are in full compliance with the criminal procedure code and all WADA procedures.
“The work is in full swing at the moment.”
On their first attempt to retrieve the data last month, WADA’s five-person team was blocked by the Russian authorities who claimed their equipment had not been certified under the country’s law.
Access to the facility before December 31 was a compulsory condition set when the WADA Executive Committee controversially lifted the suspension of RUSADA on September 20 and with the deadline having now elapsed, calls have been made for them to be declared non-compliant again.
A smaller expert team returned to Moscow yesterday as the Kremlin announced an “understanding” had been reached.
WADA have now confirmed their team have gained access to the lab 10 days after the initial deadline, but there are still fears that the data could have been manipulated.
Sir Craig Reedie, the WADA President, has said that if the trip is successful “it will break a long impasse and will potentially lead to many cases being actioned”.
He added, however, that the organisation is still working on the basis that the December 31 deadline was missed and he appeared to suggest RUSADA could still be declared non-compliant even if the data is acquired this time.
WADA are considering “all the consequences” that missing the deadline could bring, he said.
Critics have raised concerns that even if WADA do leave with the LIMS data this time around, it may have been tampered with by the Russian authorities.
“This appears to be the sequel to the cat and mouse game between WADA and Russia that we have unfortunately come to expect,” Travis Tygart, chief executive of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, said in a statement.
“We are all holding our breath this is not going to be a whitewash and WADA actually gets the data on the roughly 9,000 presumptive positive test results on over 4,000 Russian athletes that hopefully have not been destroyed.”
Irrespective of the condition of the data, WADA’s Compliance Review Committee (CRC) is set to meet to discuss the situation on Monday and Tuesday (January 14 and 15) in Montreal, after which they will make a recommendation on whether to declare Russia non-compliant once again to WADA’s Executive Committee.
The Executive Committee will then consider the recommendation via a conference call.
There have been widespread calls for the CRC to meet sooner than January 14 and 15, with critics suggesting Russia have been handed a “two-week extension” in which to comply.
Those calls have been dismissed by the CRC’s head Jonathan Taylor, though, who claimed that by following “due process” and giving Russia time to respond there will be less risk of legal challenges.