Russia remains non-compliant with Anti-Doping code

Russia’s hopes of competing at the Winter Olympics in February have suffered a setback, with the World Anti-Doping Agency saying the country remains non-compliant with its code.

Last year, an independent report commissioned by Wada found evidence of state-sponsored doping in the country.

Russia’s sports minister said they have “fulfilled all of their obligations”.

Russia’s anti-doping agency (Rusada) had pledged to follow international recommendations to get the ban – implemented after an initial Wada report in 2015 – lifted.

However, two criteria remain outstanding – granting Wada access to the Moscow laboratory suspected to be the hub of the operation, and a public acceptance that senior sports ministry figures were complicit in an organised cover-up.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will make the final decision on Russia’s participation in the Winter Games in Pyeongchang at its next board meeting, which takes place from 5-7 December

The Games take place from 9-25 February.

Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritius were also found non-compliant by Wada.

Russian authorities have never acknowledged any involvement in doping, and President Vladimir Putin has suggested the allegations were an attempt to sow discontent in the build-up to the presidential elections.

Russian Olympic Committee president Alexander Zhukov, who said in September he expected the country to have a team at the Winter Games, reiterated the state’s innocence and said Wada’s latest judgement “cannot be accepted”.

“We accept the fact our national anti-doping system has failed [but] we absolutely deny a state-sponsored doping system,” said Zhukov, who added that unconditional recognition of the McLaren report “is impossible”.

Sports minister Pavel Kolobkov added the criteria for reinstatement have a “political character”.

“I got the impression that the decision was made in advance,” he told TASS news agency after Wada’s announcement, made on the recommendation of its independent compliance review committee.

“[The] committee has been inventing reasons not to reinstate Rusada; the accusations are simply a joke.”

This is important news as it will heap pressure on the IOC to ban Russia from the 2018 Winter Olympics when it meets in early December.

IOC president Thomas Bach has been weighing up a compromise, such as a hefty fine. But now the pressure to allow only Russians who can prove they are clean to compete as neutral athletes will intensify.

Insiders believe that, with an election in March looming, this may mean Putin will boycott the Games and order his athletes to stay away rather than compete as neutrals.

Russia was suspended from track and field events by the International Association of Athletics Federations in November 2015 following the publication of the independent Wada report.

Former sports minister Vitaly Mutko apologized for Russia’s failure to catch the cheats, but stopped short of admitting the scandal had been state-sponsored.

The report implicated the majority of Olympic sports in the cover-up and claimed Russian secret service agents were involved in swapping positive urine samples for clean ones.

But the IOC chose not to impose a blanket ban, instead leaving decisions on whether Russians could compete to individual sporting federations.

 

  

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