The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced that it will send a high-level technical mission to Russia next week to collect data from the Moscow Laboratory.
A 5 member team will travel to the Russian capital on Monday (December 17) to access a facility that was the epicenter of the Russian doping crisis. The team will take possession of the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the underlying raw data stored in the building.
José Antonio Pascual, a research scientist and academic from Barcelona, will lead the team as an independent expert. WADA said they expected three days would be needed to complete the data extraction.
Granting access to the laboratory was a key condition set when WADA's Executive Committee controversially lifted the suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency on September 20.
WADA had also held a two-day audit in Moscow this month. However, worries remain that some evidence and data at the laboratory may have been destroyed or tampered with by the Russian authorities.
RUSADA's three-year suspension began in November 2015 following allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics. Revelations of more widespread cheating at events including the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics then emerged and the International Olympic Committee forced Russia to compete under a neutral flag at Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympics in February.
This ban was swiftly lifted just days after the Games in South Korea, although Russia remains banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the International Paralympic Committee. WADA's Executive Committee voted 9-2 in favour of lifting RUSADA's ban in the Seychelles but the move was greeted by a backlash from various athletes and anti-doping officials.
The reinstatement came despite Russia not meeting two key re-compliance criteria - admission of the McLaren Report which outlined much of the doping evidence against them - and access to the Moscow Laboratory. In response, WADA insisted that the move broke a period of deadlock and that RUSADA would simply be banned again if the laboratory was not opened.
They said the information collected there would allow the possibility of catching more cheats while potentially exonerating other athletes. WADA had already obtained some information from the LIMS database which was shared with sporting bodies.
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Suposh Sharma, keenly follows Hockey, Athletics, and other Olympic sports. He also has a penchant for writing humour and is an avid traveller