THE BIG PICTURE: WADA wants answers on Russian data; IAAF continues RusAF suspension

The stunning revelations concerning possible “manipulation” with the Moscow Lab data provided to the World Anti-Doping Agency in January reverberated around the globe on Monday, with developments coming from Japan and Qatar:

WADA: Fast-track review of Russia Code compliance now underway

The World Anti-Doping Agency’s Executive Committee met in Tokyo (JPN) on Monday and issued a statement clarifying the action now underway:

“The ExCo was also informed that further investigation, by WADA [Intelligence & Investigations Department] and independent experts in digital forensics, of the inconsistencies in the Moscow Laboratory data outlined in WADA’s press release dated 2 July 2019 had led WADA to open a formal compliance procedure against RUSADA on 17 September 2019. Ensuring the authenticity of the Moscow Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and underlying raw data was one of the critical conditions imposed by the ExCo for RUSADA to maintain its compliance with the Code when the ExCo decided to reinstate RUSADA as Code-compliant in September 2018.”

Three weeks from the 17th would mean the answers are due back to the Compliance Review Committee by the 8th of October. The Russian response will be evaluated by the WADA staff, then sent to the Compliance Review Committee for recommendations to the Executive Committee.

None of this is going to happen quickly, but there should be more action at the next WADA Executive Committee meeting, in Katowice (POL), on 4 November. An action by WADA to make Russia non-compliant could lead directly to sanctions against it under the Code Compliance Standards … which will immediately be appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

The good news here is that there is sufficient time – for now – to consider all of these issues well before the Tokyo Games approach next July.

The statement also noted that 47 case files on possible doping cases that have come up through the review of the Moscow Lab data have been forwarded to the appropriate International Federation for action. Per the statement, “The aforementioned 47 cases are unaffected and contained no inconsistencies in the data.”

IAAF: No change in status; Russian Athletics Federation still suspended; data “discrepanices are not random”

The IAAF Council met in Doha (QAT) in advance of its World Championships that begin on Friday and confirmed the continuing suspension of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF).

The report presented by the IAAF Russia Taskforce Chair Rune Andersen (NOR) confirmed serious issues with the Moscow Lab data (paragraph broken apart for readability):

“The AIU has advised that it is still in the process of analysing that data, but it has already identified numerous discrepancies between the copy of the LIMS database that an informant provided to WADA in 2015 and the copy of the LIMS database that WADA took at the Moscow lab in January 2019.

“In addition, some of the underlying raw data and PDFs presenting those data (the chromatograms) in visual hard copy form either are not present or are present only in altered form.

“Importantly, the AIU advises that these discrepancies are not random: in many cases, they relate to positive findings that appear in the LIMS database copy provided by the informant (including the ‘disappearing positives’ referenced in the McLaren report) but do not appear in the 2019 copy of the database (or in the underlying raw data and PDFs). (emphasis added)

“As a result, the AIU has advised that it is not able to confirm that the data provided by the Russian authorities to WADA in January 2019 are authentic and have not been tampered with, and therefore currently the AIU does not have everything it needs to determine whether any of the RusAF athletes in the LIMS database has a case to answer for violation of the anti-doping rules.

“The Taskforce’s view is that the ongoing situation is detrimental to the sport of Athletics as it impacts on AIU’s ability to prosecute cases which in turn is unfair to clean athletes. The AIU is now working with WADA to determine the cause of the discrepancies it has identified.”

This is a major problem and the report further noted that “The AIU has been advised that WADA has found very similar discrepancies in those data.”

Andersen cited other issues, including falsification of medical records for high jumper Danil Lysenko and continuing coaching by banned individuals.

The Russian federation confirmed that 448 athletes are in the registered testing pool and are required to file “whereabouts” information for testing purposes. During the first eight and a half months of 2019, 824 Russian athletes were tested a total of 2,581 times, with 67 suspected rule violations so far (that’s a positives rate as high as 8.1% of those tested).

In effect, there are now two anti-doping organizations working on the Moscow Lab data: WADA and the IAAF’s Athletics Integrity Unit, and as both are seeing the same manipulations of the data provided in January, the situation appears to be getting worse, not better.