WADA obtains 'key piece of evidence' in Russian doping scandal
Files from Moscow lab could determine if Russia's athletes will participate in Pyeongchang
The World Anti-Doping Agency has obtained files from a Moscow lab that contain data from a period when investigators say Russia ran a state-sponsored system designed to help Olympic athletes evade positive tests.
The data is considered a key piece of evidence as the International Olympic Committee tries to determine the fate of Russian athletes for the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Later this month, the WADA board will decide whether to reinstate the suspended Russian Anti-Doping Agency, which would be a key step toward Russia's overall acceptance to the upcoming Olympics.
As a condition of reinstatement, WADA is requiring "responsible authorities" in Russia to publicly accept outcomes of the investigation conducted by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, who outlined evidence of the state-sponsored system. They also are requiring the Russian government to provide access to stored urine samples and electronic data in the Moscow laboratory.
A person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press that the newly gleaned data did not come from the Russian government. The person did not want to be identified because details of the investigation were not supposed to be made public.
In announcing the acquisition of the data, WADA chairman Craig Reedie said it `'serves to reinforce our requirement of Russian authorities that they too publicly accept the outcomes."
Early next month, the executive board of the IOC will meet to discuss Russia's future. Two commissions — one looking at individual cases and one looking at the Russian doping program as a whole — are nearing the end of their work. Already, six Russians have been penalized for violations at the Sochi Games and barred from next year's Olympics. Anti-doping leaders are calling for a full ban of the Russian Olympic team, with allowances made for Russian athletes who can prove they're clean to compete as neutral athletes.
The McLaren Report detailed a scheme in which the Moscow lab would report all positive tests to Russia's Ministry of Sport, and the ministry would replay with a "save" or "quarantine" order. If a report said "save," the lab would report the sample as negative in WADA's database.
WADA said that "by cross-referencing this new intelligence with the McLaren Investigations' findings and what was reported into [the database], WADA's evidence base is reinforced."