Russia stuck in stalemate with WADA after doping scandal
An Aug. 3, 2004 photo from files showing an unidentified laboratory assistant looking at urine tests at the WADA laboratories in Lausanne, Switzerland. (AP Photo/Keystone, Fabrice Coffrini)
Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press
Published Wednesday, March 21, 2018 11:32AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, March 21, 2018 12:11PM EDT
LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- Russia seems to be stuck in stalemate that is blocking its full re-entry to international sports after a state-backed doping scandal.
The World Anti-Doping Agency said Wednesday it is "not wavering" from two key demands in a road map to rehabilitate Russia, whose anti-doping body was suspended in November 2015.
Russia has refused to formally accept the findings of WADA-appointed investigator Richard McLaren, who detailed the doping program and state-orchestrated coverups, nor allow access to potentially tainted samples stored in the Moscow laboratory central to the conspiracy.
At an annual conference for global anti-doping officials, WADA stressed its wish to welcome Russia back would not be sold short.
"That price is the road map, and that price is they have to accept (McLaren)," the agency's deputy director general, Rob Koehler, said in an expert panel session that also featured Russia's top anti-doping official.
In an apparent plea to newly re-elected President Vladimir Putin, Koehler said public acceptance of McLaren's evidence "needs to happen from the leadership, in order to start mending and having that cultural change."
Putin said last year American interests were manipulating sports leaders to use doping scandals that embarrassed Russia ahead of the elections.
Russia's federal law enforcement agency, which answers to Putin's government, is another barrier to WADA restoring the compliance with global standards of the national anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA.
WADA president Craig Reedie earlier revealed his frustration with trying to work with the Russian Investigative Committee which sealed the Moscow laboratory as part of its own case.
Four letters sent to Russia by WADA in recent weeks have gone unanswered, and "it seems our offer has fallen on deaf ears," Reedie said in a keynote speech.
Reedie said while he wanted to bring Russia "back in from the cold ... it is just a pity it is taking so long for Russian authorities to make it happen."
Decisions in Russia were taken above the level of sports officials, RUSADA director general Yuri Ganus told reporters after the session.
"It's a question outside of our responsibility," Ganus said when pressed on why Russia did not compromise on the two outstanding issues, adding it was a "procedural question" for federal investigators.
Ganus acknowledged Russia was "losing the trust of the international community. It's a very serious problem."
Earlier on stage, Ganus said McLaren was a "respected person" but did not address a delegate's question of what happened next if Russia continued to refuse that McLaren's report was accurate.
WADA and the IAAF, the governing body of track and field, are proving Russia's toughest opponents in fallout from the doping scandal which corrupted the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee imposed conditions on Russia's team selections for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and 2018 Pyeongchang OIympics, though reinstated Russia's Olympic body days after the games finished in South Korea last month.
The IAAF this month threatened the Russian track federation, suspended since 2015, with expulsion if progress was not made by July.
The doping scandal has not yet affected Russia's hosting of the World Cup, which kicks off on June 14 in Moscow.
FIFA is investigating potential doping cases in Russian soccer using evidence provided by McLaren and WADA, including more than three years of testing data from the Moscow laboratory supplied by a whistleblower last October.
WADA chief investigator Guenter Younger said his team "fortunately" had help from another whistleblower, former Moscow and Sochi lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, to begin the challenge of analyzing the data.
"We will not accept that cases will be brushed under the carpet (by sports bodies)," Younger said.
Reedie began the conference by saying "every Russian sporting victory will be questioned" until the country achieves a full return to international sports.
"It is time for this situation to change in the interests of clean athletes," the WADA leader said, "in Russia and beyond."