WADA Ponders Latest Russian Responses In ‘Manipulated Doping Data’ Investigation

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WADA Ponders Russian Responses To Latest Doping Crisis

Russian authorities have provided more responses to questions from the World Anti-Doping Agency and experts forensic and investigative in the latest ‘data manipulation’ inquiry.

The ‘independent’ Compliance Group’ working on the case is set to meet and make recommendations to WADA sometime in late November, the anti-doping agency indicates in its latest update.

WADA’s Intelligence and Investigations Department (I&I) and forensic experts working alongside the WADA sent a list of detailed and technical questions and follow-up questions to the Russian authorities this month after evidence of manipulation of test samples at the Moscow anti-doping laboratory was unearthed.

The inquiry is being held against a backdrop of serious threat: a failure to comply and meet a three-week deadline would result in a whole-nation ban.

According to RUSADA Boss Yuri Ganus, thousands of changes were made to the Moscow Laboratory data before it was handed over to WADA last January.

Ganus told Der Spiegel earlier this month that manipulation, including names of athletes being changed on sample results, was still taking place in December last year and even January this year in some cases, just before the requested data was handed to WADA after a deadline had passed.

The evidence so far suggests that agents were busy manipulating results to conceal more evidence of systematic doping even at a time when Russia was allowed back into the international sporting fold as a full member on the basis that it had complied with investigations.

Compliance, however, included handing over to WADA data pending from its Moscow laboratory under the terms of previous investigations by the international anti-doping agency.

Now, even RUSADA has said “enough” to the games of insiders in the Russian sports system.

Ganus believes the manipulation was deliberate and too “large and significant” to be a coincidence. He said:

“It’s not about deleting entire data packets, but changing or moving them in different places. Someone has tried to hush up information on a large scale. It could also be about athletes’ names. It’s not just about what was, the record of 2015, but also about how the material was changed afterwards. We’re speaking about months, the most recent changes date from December 2018 and January 2019.”

When “inconsistencies” were discovered, WADA, after lengthy consideration, gave Russia a three-week deadline to come up with explanations. Russian responded to that request with a week to go and has now responded to follow-up questions.

The responses and further questions now raised will be considered by the independent Compliance Review Committee whose recommendations will be considered by WADA bosses by the close of the year.

An update statement  from WADA pencils in a “late November” timeline for the CRC to meet, consider and recommend what it thinks the anti-doping agency should do next.

If the Russian responses are unsatisfactory and cannot explain what have been described as manipulated test samples and switching of names on test samples as well as other related problems, then WADA has indicated that it may reinstate the whole-nation ban that kept many Russian athletes out of international competition in the period 2016-2019.

A track and field ban remains in place, while any return to a ban in general would prevent international events proceeding in – or new bids being mounted by – Russia.

The WADA statement in full:

wada-2018-independent-observers-report

Photo Courtesy: WADA

Montreal, 28 October 2019 – The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) can confirm it has received further responses from the Russian authorities to a list of detailed and technical questions, including follow-up questions, raised by WADA’s Intelligence and Investigations Department (I&I) and the independent forensic experts concerning the data that WADA I&I retrieved from the Moscow Laboratory in January 2019.

These questions gave the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the Russian Ministry of Sport an opportunity to explain a number of inconsistencies, as part of WADA’s decision on 17 September 2019 to open a formal compliance procedure against RUSADA.

The responses are currently being assessed by WADA I&I and the independent forensic experts, who will report to the independent Compliance Review Committee (CRC) in due course so that the CRC is in a position to decide whether to bring a formal recommendation of non-compliance and proposed consequences to the WADA Executive Committee (ExCo).

Given the highly technical nature of this investigation and the volume of complex material being assessed, no fixed timeline can be set at this stage. However, at the moment, it is anticipated that the CRC will be in a position to consider WADA I&I’s report before the end of November. That being the case, the ExCo – under the chairmanship of WADA President Sir Craig Reedie whose term of office runs until 31 December 2019 – would meet as soon as possible thereafter to discuss any CRC recommendation.

WADA continues to pursue this matter robustly and as quickly as practicable, while ensuring that due process is respected, as outlined in the International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories.

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