September 18, 2018 / 6:55 PM / 8 months ago

WADA should postpone ruling on RUSADA, say anti-doping leaders

(Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) should postpone this week’s decision on whether to reinstate Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA), anti-doping leaders said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: A sign is on display outside the office of Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in Moscow, Russia March 28, 2018. Picture taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo

National anti-doping bodies from around the world, including ones from the United States, Britain and Australia, said in a joint statement that WADA should not reinstate RUSADA until Russia can prove it has fulfilled the WADA roadmap to code compliance.

WADA’s executive committee is set to meet on Thursday to review RUSADA’s efforts toward reinstatement.

RUSADA was suspended in November 2015 over a WADA report outlining evidence of state-backed, systematic doping in Russian athletics. It has since undertaken broad reforms in a bid to revamp Russia’s anti-doping system and restore international trust in the country’s sport.

According to the WADA roadmap, for the agency to regain accreditation, Russian authorities must acknowledge the findings of a WADA-commissioned report that found more than 1,000 Russian athletes benefited from a state-run scheme to conceal positive tests over a five-year period.

Russia has vehemently denied those allegations.

The authorities must also provide access to urine samples stored at the suspended Moscow anti-doping laboratory.

WADA said last week that its compliance review committee had reviewed a letter from the Russian sports ministry it said had “sufficiently acknowledged the issues identified in Russia,” thus fulfilling the first of two remaining criteria for its reinstatement.

But the group of anti-doping leaders, which also includes Austria, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Poland, said it was dismayed by what it called a compromise by WADA’s compliance review committee.

“We cannot understand or accept that the simple fact that the two remaining conditions — regarding Russian acceptance of the McLaren Report and access for WADA to the Moscow laboratory — remain unfulfilled, and yet WADA’s leading compliance body is recommending the reinstatement of a country that perpetrated the worst doping system ever seen in international sport,” the anti-doping bodies said in a statement.

The statement added: “We, the international anti-doping leaders wish to place on record that the goal posts have been moved. The Roadmap has changed.

“This is quite simply unacceptable and will not restore confidence in global sport at a time when athletes and sports fans need it most.”

The group also said WADA should postpone any decision until Russia has “clearly and publicly” met the outstanding conditions of the roadmap to code compliance and until it is in possession of the data from the Moscow lab.

“Now is not the time for WADA to U-Turn on its Roadmap,” the group said. “It is not the time for WADA to turn its back on the majority: the clean athletes and sports fans.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis

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