WADA finally gets Moscow lab access; Tygart says it should still declare non-compliance
An expert team from the World Anti-Doping Agency has finally gained long-awaited access to the Moscow anti-doping laboratory at the centre of the country’s doping scandal over a week after a deadline that WADA set for access had expired.
Pavel Kolobkov, Russia’s sports minister, said yesterday that the work should be completed within the next three days, adding: “Today the joint expert group got down to work. Work on setting up the equipment has begun, including on copying the databases…
“The work is done under a complete coordination as we have
previously discussed all technical and organizational details, which are in
full compliance with the criminal procedure code and all WADA procedures. The
work is in full swing at the moment.”
WADA said earlier this week that the deadline of 31 December was missed “due to an issue raised by the Russian authorities in relation to the certification of the equipment under Russian law. That issue has since been resolved by the Russian authorities.”
WADA has come under sustained pressure in recent weeks over its decision to provisionally lift its suspension of RUSADA, the Russian anti-doping agency, despite not having gained access to the lab (one of the conditions for RUSADA’s reinstatement).
In particular, WADA’s independent Compliance Review Committee has been strongly criticised by athletes and others for not reimposing the suspension immediately, but instead waiting for a scheduled meeting on 14 January.
Travis Tygart, chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency and one of WADA’s most outspoken critics, responded to the latest development by saying: “If accurate, it is a good thing that the signals emerging from WADA are that its group has been allowed into the Moscow laboratory. We remain vigilant to ensure a full public disclosure that the evidence obtained on the approximately 9000 presumptive positive drug tests which exists in the laboratory is authentic. It is in the clear public interest that WADA does this openly and transparently.
“Until that is done, WADA should declare the Russians non-compliant and to be reinstated they should be at a minimum required to cooperate with the dozens of international sport federations which have the responsibility to prosecute the thousands of individual cases.”