Russia could be banned from Tokyo Olympics after new chapter in doping scandal begins
Wada gives Russians three weeks to reply to allegations that there were discrepancies in data handed over from anti-doping lab in Moscow
The Russian doping scandal is rearing its head again after the sports international anti-doping body said that data it was given by a lab in Moscow detailing tests taken by Russian athletes contained inconsistencies.
The latest chapter in the doping saga has already cost Russia a place at the athletics World Championships in Qatar this week and may jeopardize Russia’s participation in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) announced on Monday that it was opening an investigation into the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) after examining a large archive of thousands of tests that was handed over the Russian agency in January.
Rusada’s decision to give access to the more than 2,00 samples was part of a deal that saw the Russian anti-doping agency reinstated earlier this year. The agency was originally banned following a scathing 2016 report that detailed a massive and coordinated state-sponsored doping program.
On Monday, Wada’s Executive Committee received a report from its Compliance Review Committee which it found had irregularities in the data from the anti-doping lab in Moscow.
"The ExCo was informed that further investigation ... of inconsistencies in Moscow Laboratory data had led Wada to open a formal compliance procedure against RUSADA on 17 September 2019," Wada said in a statement.
If Russia is again deemed non-compliant by Wada, that will put considerable pressure on the International Olympic Committee to bar Russia from competing in the Tokyo Games in the summer of 2020.
For the second year running, Russia has been ruled out from World Championships, taking place this week in Qatar, after the International Association of Athletics Federations, said the Russian organisation had had their ban extended.
"We are aware of the allegations of manipulation of the data and that an investigation is ongoing," Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF Task Force, told the Reuters news agency. "In the light of that, the task force recommended that Rusaf not be reinstated and the IAAF council unanimously agreed."
In response, Alexander Ivlev, chairman of Rusada's supervisory board, told the Interfax news agency that, "Wada has given the Russian side three weeks to give explanations regarding the alleged changes in the database from the Moscow laboratory".
Stanislav Pozdnyakov, the president of Russia's Olympic Committee, described the situation as "very serious."
"We have spent vast diplomatic efforts to regain the trust of the international sports community and for Russian athletes to have the right to take part in Olympics without any restrictions," Mr Pozdnyakov said.
Valery Gazzaev, deputy chairman of the committee for physical culture, sports, tourism and youth affairs in lower house of parliament house told the state-run Tass news agency that he hoped the process would not become politicised.
"I hope all the disputable matters will be settled in due time, and a fair decision on Rusada will follow," he said.
The 2016 Wada report accused the Russian government of presiding over a sweeping doping program, which led to dozens of Russian athletes being barred from the 2016 Olympics Games in Brazil and the entirety of the paralympic team being banned.
Updated: September 24, 2019 08:04 PM