THE BIG PICTURE: Russia’s head of anti-doping asks for Putin’s help to resolve WADA lab access

Russian Anti-Doping Agency chief Yuriy Ganus

The drama over access to the Russian doping database in Moscow continues, with discussions reportedly taking place over another visit from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

A WADA team was not allowed to complete its review of the database earlier in December and a WADA statement explained that “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.”

Since then, the head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), Yury Ganus, has asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for assistance. In a letter reported by the TASS news agency, Ganus wrote:

“The revocation of the compliance status of the RUSADA, which is the key element of the Russian anti-doping system and which within a short period of time not only restored in full its operability, but became one of the best in the world as it was confirmed by the WADA audit several weeks ago, would lead to the sports self-isolation of Russia.

“We are on the brink of an abyss and I ask you to protect the present and the future of our clean sports, the present and next generations of our athletes.”

On Thursday, TASS further reported that access to the data will be resolved by 16 January, according to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets.

But that’s a little inconvenient for WADA, whose Compliance Review Committee will meet on 14-15 January to decide what to recommend to the WADA Executive Committee about Russia’s status. The September reinstatement of Russia required that the database be provided by 31 December, so that any further testing of samples held at the Moscow – based on the data – could be completed by the end of June 2019. The Russians are playing with fire here, but then again, the game is called “Russian Roulette,” isn’t it?