The report by Russia Today (RT) came a day after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that Russia has missed the December 31, 2018 deadline for compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code. By that deadline, the Russian authorities were supposed to meet two conditions imposed by WADA’s Executive Committee back in September.
Also on January 2, 16 national anti-doping organizations issued a joint statement calling on WADA to suspend Russia immediately, stating: "Russia has failed to meet its obligations."
RT’s January 2 report used language implying that it was the World Anti-Doping Agency’s own fault for not being able to access Moscow laboratory (LIMS) data, and that WADA president Craig Reedie had seemingly expressed disappointment toward his own organization.
Reedie actually said: “I am bitterly disappointed that data extraction from the former Moscow Laboratory has not been completed by the date agreed by WADA’s ExCo in September 2018.”
The RT report included the quote, but several paragraphs after the misleading opening sentence of the article.
WADA followed with a statement on January 2 leaving no space for doubt about who the organization blamed for the failure: “We are extremely disappointed that the Dec. 31 deadline imposed on Russia by WADA has not been adhered to by the Russian authorities.”
The one condition Russia failed to fulfill was to provide WADA’s five-person team of experts with full access to the raw data of the former Moscow laboratory (LIMS). The facility was sealed after playing a central role in the doping scandal that stunned Russian professional sports starting in 2014 and led to disqualifications of top Russian athletes, the loss of medals for cheating during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency – RUSADA -- ending up suspended by WADA.
Before sending in the team of experts, WADA representatives met on November 28 with top Russian officials regarding access to the Moscow lab. According to WADA, the parties thoroughly discussed “logistics and next steps” and a “full technical mission” was “provisionally planned.” Russia agreed that WADA’s technical mission would arrive in Moscow in mid-December and the Russians would provide full access to the Moscow lab’s authentic data.
The WADA mission arrived in Moscow on December 17 but had to leave empty-handed four days later after the Russian Federal Investigative Committee denied the group full access to the data and its extraction and export from Russia.
The reason given by the Russian law enforcement agency was that “the team’s equipment to be used for the data extraction was required to be certified under Russian law.” The issue, WADA said, “had not been raised during an initial meeting on 28 November in Moscow.”
“The raw data is the missing piece of the puzzle that will complement the duplicate LIMS database that is already in WADA’s possession and help conclude WADA’s McLaren and Operation LIMS investigations,” WADA said at the time, referring to the July 2016 report on the Moscow lab’s data by independent Canadian expert Richard McLaren.
The preliminary report on WADA’s McLaren and Operation LIMS investigations accused Russia of “state sponsored doping” – an accusation the Russian officials repeatedly denied.
The consequences could be grave for the Russian sports, WADA said: “Russia will be declared non-compliant. Only this action will be suitable and appropriate in the view of the athletes. Anything less will be considered a failure by WADA to act on behalf of clean athletes.”