Russia faces the prospect of a four-year sporting exile after the World Anti-Doping Agency reported serious concerns over manipulation and deletion of data from a Moscow laboratory.
An independent compliance review committee (CRC) has recommended the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) be declared non-compliant at a specially convened meeting of WADA’s executive committee in Paris on December 9.
A four-year period of punishment is advised, during which Russia would not be welcome at the next summer and winter Olympics, as well as a raft of other high-profile international events including football’s European Championship next summer and the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The recommendations also cover hosting, attending and bidding for major competitions as well as flying the Russian flag at them and having Russian representation on key boards and committees.
The CRC’s report is eye-catching in the scope of its findings. Signed by CRC chairman Jonathan Taylor QC, the 26-page document focuses on data collected from the Moscow laboratory in January as part of the terms of reinstatement from its prior period of non-compliance.
A summary states the data is “neither complete nor fully authentic”, with hundreds of failed tests noted in 2015 absent in 2019, while underlying data and PDF files “have been deleted or altered”.
As well as previously noted changes dating back to 2016, the CRC highlight further alterations dated December 2018 and January 2019 but made to appear historic, as well as false additions.
As at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, there may be a route for Russian athletes to compete at the Tokyo Games in 2020 as independent competitors under strict conditions.
A WADA statement read: “If the ExCo accepts the recommendation, formal notice will be sent to RUSADA, alleging non-compliance and proposing the above consequences, in accordance with the Code. RUSADA will have 21 days to accept the notice.”
If Russia contests the allegations, the issue will be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.