MOSCOW (Reuters) - World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) officials will return to Moscow on Wednesday to retrieve laboratory data the body requires, Russia's minister of sport Pavel Kolobkov said on Monday.
WADA confirmed a three-person expert team would be allowed entry to the tainted Moscow laboratory to extract data it was denied access to during a visit in December.
Access to the lab and data before the end of 2018 was a condition of WADA's September decision to reinstate the country's anti-doping agency in September. However, extraction from the former Moscow Laboratory has not been completed due to a technicality.
Russian authorities had said that the inspection team's equipment was not certified under Russian law.
The decision to allow the new inspection team access comes with WADA preparing to impose possible new sanctions on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).
By failing to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to turn over data in the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), RUSADA was again at risk of being found non-compliant.
RUSADA was suspended in 2015 after a WADA-commissioned report outlined evidence of state-backed, systematic doping in Russian athletics, allegations Moscow has denied.
A WADA Compliance Review Committee (CRC) is scheduled to meet at the agency's Montreal headquarters on Jan. 14-15 where they were expected to hear from the original five-member inspection team.
The CRC is then due to submit a report to the WADA executive committee and could recommend that RUSADA once again be ruled non-compliant and face new sanctions.
"While WADA is obliged under the ISCCS (International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories) to give every opportunity to RUSADA, we are continuing to act on the basis of the 31 December deadline having been missed, with all the consequences that failure could bring," WADA president Craig Reedie said in a statement.
"This week's mission to Moscow is not only about us following due process and precedent.
"If the mission is successful in acquiring the data, it will break a long impasse and will potentially lead to many cases being actioned."
Russian authorities must also ensure that any re-analysis of samples required by WADA, following review of the laboratory data, is completed by no later than June 30, 2019.
The latest developments are sure to trigger more criticism and attacks from athletes and anti-doping groups who have been pushing WADA to take swift, firm action against Russia for the failure to hand over data by the required deadline.
(Reporting by Maxim Rodionov and Steve Keating.; Editing by Christian Radnedge)