January 3, 2019 / 11:59 PM / 3 months ago

Do not leave athletes in limbo: U.S. doping chief

(Reuters) - The head of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) challenged the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Thursday to not leave athletes in limbo and make a quick ruling on Russia’s failure to allow access to a data in a tainted Moscow laboratory.

FILE PHOTO: Travis Tygart, chief executive officer of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, speaks during Anti-Doping Intelligence and Investigation Seminar in Singapore February 11, 2015. REUTERS/Edgar Su

A WADA Compliance Review Committee (CRC) will meet at the agency’s Montreal headquarters on Jan. 14-15 where they will hear from the five-member inspection team that were not allowed to retrieve data from the laboratory.

The CRC will submit a report to the WADA executive committee and could recommend that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) once again be ruled non-compliant and face new sanctions.

“Let’s see if a decision on January 14th happens but let’s not forget that’s it’s just a recommendation that has to go to the WADA executive committee,” USADA chief Travis Tygart told Reuters. “Are they going call an emergency executive committee meeting on the 15th which is what they should do.

“Being in limbo as a clean athlete is what is extremely frustrating about this process.”

Russian authorities had indicated they were prepared to grant the inspection team access to the lab before a Dec. 31 deadline but then claimed the equipment being used to extract the data was not certified under Russian law.

The WADA executive committee voted in September to reinstate RUSADA, which had been suspended since November 2015 over alleged state-backed doping.

That reinstatement, however, was conditional on Russia allowing access to the data in the Moscow lab.

Already under attack from athletes groups and anti-doping organizations (NADOs) over RUSADA’s reinstatement WADA is now facing renewed pressure to act swiftly and find Russia non-compliant.

WADA has no scheduled executive committee meetings until May but is expected to either call an emergency meeting or a teleconference and rule on Russian compliance perhaps as early as Jan. 15 or in the following days.

“When are we going to wake up, stop getting played by the Russians who perpetrated this scheme and put an end to it and at least give athletes a clear message that we have their back and their decision to compete clean is absolutely the right decision,” said Tygart.

“Make no mistake it was nobody’s fault but the Russians that they attempted to pull off this original scheme to begin with.

“They got away with. But now is the time to hold them accountable.”

Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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