Russia could be set to miss next year’s Olympics after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) gave them three weeks to explain alleged data tampering in their doping laboratory.
The computer files were critical in prosecuting cases against athletes alleged to have cheated at the 2014 Olympics and other events, with WADA hearing about the possible tampering at Monday’s executive committee meeting in Tokyo.
The data was handed over to WADA in January after Russia breached an earlier deadline of December 31, 2018. It had been stored in a sealed-off area under the control of Russian law enforcement.
Turning over the data was a key requirement for the reinstatement of Russia’s anti-doping agency, with WADA formally opening a compliance procedure that could now lead to a new ban if the data has been manipulated.
These latest allegations have already led Russia to being banned from the World Athletics Championships for the second time in a row.
The IAAF confirmed the decision four days before the start of the competition in Qatar after hearing a report from its Task Force (TF) overseeing Russia’s reinstatement efforts.
“We are aware of the allegations of manipulation of the data and that an investigation is ongoing,” said Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF Task Force.
“In the light of that, TF recommended that RUSAF not be reinstated and the IAAF council unanimously agreed.”
Russia was already required to send an officially neutral, smaller-than-usual squad of “Olympic Athletes from Russia” to last year’s Winter Olympics as a punishment from the International Olympic Committee for doping offences.
On the developments, Nicole Sapstead, head of the UK Anti-Doping Agency, who led the overhaul of its Russian counterpart, said the manipulation of data could spark fresh cynicism about whether the country had cleaned up its act.
“Clearly it’s incredibly concerning and incredibly disappointing,” Sapstead said. “This is data that should have been made available right from the off, it wasn’t.
“A number of obstacles were placed to avoid that data being obtained.