WADA insists Russia must accept findings of doping report

The World Anti-Doping Agency says the Russian government must accept the findings of a report which accused it of overseeing widespread doping and a cover-up, though Russia appears unlikely to comply.

Last year’s report by WADA investigator Richard McLaren said Russian Sports Ministry officials decided which athletes to “save” by covering up failed drug tests, and swapped samples containing banned substances at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

In a new road map, WADA has made acceptance of the report by the ministry and Russian Olympic Committee a key point as Russia tries to have its national drug-test agency, known as RUSADA, reinstated.

Vitaly Smirnov, the head of an anti-doping commission set up by Russian President Vladimir Putin, rejected WADA’s demand Thursday.

Smirnov said Russia accepted that “we had problems, that there was a glitch” but disputed many parts of the report. “No one plans to accept this report unconditionally,” he told Russian agency R-Sport.

Smirnov also disputed another of WADA’s stipulations, that Russian law enforcement stop sealing off a store of urine samples in Moscow’s former drug-testing laboratory. “There’s no way we can speed up this process,” he said.

The investigation by the Russian Investigative Committee has so far concentrated on former lab director Grigory Rodchenkov — the McLaren report’s star witness — painting him as an immoral and unreliable figure who coerced otherwise clean athletes into taking drugs.

Besides those stipulations, the road map acknowledges progress on RUSADA’s administration and anti-drug education programs, but says it must still hire more staff and pass an audit.

WADA’s demands will likely have little immediate effect because WADA has already partially restored some authority to RUSADA. That allowed it significant independence, including the authority to coordinate drug testing.

However, the lack of a fully accredited drug-testing agency could slow down Russia’s readmission to international track and field after almost two years under suspension. A group of 19 Russians at the world championships in London this month will compete as “neutral athletes,” without the Russian flag or national anthem.

Russia previously said it hoped for full WADA reinstatement in November, which would be two years since RUSADA was first suspended on suspicion of covering up for drug cheats.

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