THE BIG PICTURE: Russia refuses WADA team full access to Moscow lab data; now what?

The simmering fight within the anti-doping movement over Russia’s reinstatement by the World Anti-Doping Agency is now getting ready to boil over.

WADA released a statement on Friday which noted that its technical team was not allowed to obtain the data it was seeking from the Moscow laboratory:

The team accessed the laboratory and progress was made with the Russian authorities regarding extraction and export of the data outside Russia. However, the team was unable to complete its mission within the prescribed time due to an issue raised by the Russian authorities that the team’s equipment to be used for the data extraction was required to be certified under Russian law.

This issue had not been raised during an initial meeting on 28 November in Moscow, after which WADA sent its expert team back to Moscow to retrieve the data. …

In keeping with the process that was outlined by the WADA ExCo in September, Dr. [Toni] Pascual will now prepare his formal report on the mission and, as planned, the report will be sent to the independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC). The CRC will meet on 14-15 January 2019 when RUSADA’s Code compliance status will again be considered and the CRC’s recommendation will then be considered by the ExCo.

The retrieval of the Moscow lab data was required under the terms of WADA’s reinstatement of Russia to be completed by 31 December 2018. Unless something happens in the coming week, the pressure on the WADA Compliance Review Committee and the Executive Committee to find Russia non-compliant will be intense.

Nothing less than WADA’s credibility and “fitness for purpose” – as the British say – is on the line. For Russian athletes, the possibility of being restricted from international competitions is once again quite real.