MONTREAL • The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has acted quickly in suspending the Moscow laboratory in the first concrete response to the doping and corruption scandal engulfing athletics.
The testing centre's suspension yesterday - dismissed as "utter nonsense" in Moscow - was one of the key recommendations contained in Monday's damning report from Wada's independent commission chaired by Dick Pound.
A Wada statement announced: "The suspension, which takes effect immediately, prohibits the Moscow Anti-doping Centre from carrying out any Wada-related anti-doping activities including all analyses of urine and blood samples."
The laboratory has 21 days to appeal against the sanction to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Pound's report revealed that the laboratory's director had ordered close to 1,500 samples to be deliberately destroyed. Wada said it will set up a disciplinary committee to review the case and review the centre's accreditation status.
Russian anti-doping agency (Rusada) director Nikita Kamayev confirmed that the Moscow laboratory had stopped work.
But he dismissed Wada claims that there was a second laboratory in operation in Moscow and that FSB security service agents oversaw doping.
He insisted that the agency worked "in full compliance" with Wada guidelines and said it would be sending its response to the accusations by next Wednesday.
"This is pure and utter nonsense. Some people are stuck in the epoch of James Bond," Kamayev told a press conference.
Russia too yesterday rejected the explosive accusations of doping and corruption in the country and promised a rapid response to avoid suspension from next year's Olympics.
Athletics was rocked by allegations of Russian "state-sponsored" doping contained in the report published on Monday. "Until any proof has been put forward, it is hard to accept any accusations as they seem rather groundless," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Sebastian Coe has given the Russian athletics federation (Araf) "until the end of the week" to respond or risk possible suspension.
Despite the Kremlin's dismissive reaction, Araf assured Coe that it would contact the IAAF "in the very near future" outlining its anti-doping programme and "its reaction to the deductions and conclusions" in Wada's report.
Calls for Russia, fourth in the 2012 London Olympics medal table, to be banned from next year's Games in Rio de Janeiro are growing.
UK Athletics chief Ed Warner told BBC Radio 4: "Lord Coe says that his (IAAF) council is meeting on Friday or Saturday to consider sanctioning Russia and possibly to suspend them. My strong advice would be: You've absolutely got to do that."
That view was echoed by Australia's Olympic committee.
"If Russia is not in Rio, I think the reputation of athletics will be enhanced because the public will know every athlete competing is clean and is competing in the true spirit of the Olympic Games," said the 2016 Australian Olympic team's chef de mission Kitty Chiller.
However, an athlete at the heart of the doping and corruption scandal said yesterday that punishment should be meted out to officials and not competitors.
Disgraced Liliya Shobukhova, who was excluded for life from all the world's major marathons because of doping and had a separate doping ban reduced in August after agreeing to cooperate with the Wada probe, said: "I just don't understand this recommendation by Wada. The athletes are not connected to this at all! How is it possible to deprive young athletes, who are not to be blamed, of the right to compete at the Olympic Games?"
The runner, who alleged in the Wada report that she paid Russian athletics officials to help cover up doping violations, said former Araf head Valentin Balakhnichev and coach Alexei Melnikov should be the ones to face justice.
Balakhnichev said he intends to take legal action against those accusing him of being complicit in the wide-scale doping practices.
"I have always been faithful to my principles," he was quoted as saying by the Itar-Tass news agency. "That's why I will definitely take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Otherwise this story will never become clear."
Meanwhile, international police body Interpol said it is coordinating a French-led global investigation into the doping allegations.
"The world police body is now working with member countries potentially linked to the inquiry, including Singapore, to seek assistance in coordinating a global investigative network and support the criminal investigation on the basis of the intelligence gathered by the (Wada) independent commission," it said.
According to French investigative news agency Mediapart, the people who conducted doping inquiries for Wada believe a company registered in Singapore was used to channel certain funds that were part of the corruption operation.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS