(Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency must not pander to the will of a powerful nation when it decides this week whether to reinstate Russia's anti-doping agency (RUSADA), the umbrella group of national anti-doping agencies said on Monday.
The Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations (iNADO) said it looked forward to RUSADA's return to compliance but it was hard not to be cynical that after months of silence WADA's compliance review committee recommended a reinstatement.
"Any reasonable person would conclude that Russia has not yet fulfilled its obligations to the global sporting community," iNADO said in a statement.
"WADA must make its decisions based on consistent application of principles and not simply out of expedience pandering to the will of a powerful nation."
RUSADA was suspended in November 2015 over a WADA report outlining evidence of state-backed, systematic doping in Russian athletics. It has since undertaken broad reforms in a bid to revamp Russia's anti-doping system and restore international trust in the country's sport.
For the agency to regain accreditation, Russian authorities must acknowledge the findings of a WADA-commissioned report that found more than 1,000 Russian athletes benefited from a state-run scheme to conceal positive tests over a five-year period.
Russia has vehemently denied those allegations.
The authorities must also provide access to urine samples stored at the suspended Moscow anti-doping laboratory.
WADA said last week that its compliance review committee had reviewed a letter from the Russian sports ministry it said had "sufficiently acknowledged the issues identified in Russia," thus fulfilling the first of two remaining criteria for its reinstatement.
It also said the compliance review committee accepted that a new commitment to provide access to the data and samples in the Moscow laboratory to WADA via an independent expert would be sufficient to justify reinstatement.
WADA's executive committee will meet on Sept. 20 to review RUSADA's efforts towards reinstatement.
iNADO called the upcoming discussion "perhaps the most crucial decision" WADA has ever faced.
"The sporting community is eager to see Russia return as an equal participant but not at any cost," said iNADO.
"When the satisfactory conclusion of the current Russian sanction occurs, it is something that should be able to withstand wide scrutiny and be accepted broadly by that sporting community. The present situation does anything but."
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Ken Ferris)