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Doping - No time for WADA "victory lap", warn anti-doping bodies

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Doping - No time for WADA "victory lap", warn anti-doping bodies
FILE PHOTO: A sign is on display outside the office of Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in Moscow, Russia March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/File Photo   -   Copyright  Maxim Shemetov(Reuters)
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By Steve Keating

(Reuters) – National Anti-Doping Organisations (NADO) applauded the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on Thursday for getting access to Russian laboratory data but warned that it should not yet be doing a “victory lap”.

WADA said last week that after much feet dragging by Russian authorities, it had extracted doping data from a discredited Moscow laboratory, a condition of its controversial decision in September to restore the accreditation of Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA).

“While WADA is to be commended for obtaining the data, and RUSADA congratulated for its willing cooperation, it is not cause for celebration,” said NADO in a statement.

“It is not yet appropriate to turn the page on the issues, nor should the principals at WADA be doing a ‘victory lap’, rather it is the opening of another chapter in the tragic saga of a state-sponsored doping scheme.”

WADA said on Tuesday it would not reimpose a suspension on RUSADA despite Moscow missing a Dec. 31 deadline to hand over the laboratory data.

The data collected from the tainted lab will be examined for any sign of tampering, while Russian authorities must ensure that any re-analysis of samples required by WADA is completed — in an accredited laboratory — by June 30.

NADO noted that Russia continues to bid to host international events, such as the 2024 Youth Olympics, which would not be possible if evidence of tampering is found and RUSADA is again declared non-compliant.

“Although WADA and the IOC (International Olympic Committee) would have us believe this is now all behind us, diligence requires otherwise,” said NADO.

NADO called for renewed vigilance and compensation, including the recovery from Russia of all costs incurred relating to the doping crisis since RUSADA was suspended in 2015 after a WADA-commissioned report found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

NADO is also calling for an exhaustive, independent expert review of the authenticity and integrity of all the data retrieved followed by another independent review of the crisis to identify any lessons to prevent a recurrence.

“Throughout the entire ordeal, NADO leaders have signalled our steadfast commitment to the global athlete community in support of clean sport,” said NADO in a statement supported by the National Anti-Doping Organisations of Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland and U.S.

“Much painstaking work remains before any page can be turned on the greatest doping scandal of all time.”

(Editing by Toby Davis)

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