No key data from Russian lab, lawyer questions reprieve

NEW YORK • The lawyer for Russian doping-scandal whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov said on Saturday that restoring Russia to World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) compliance after being denied key lab data would destroy Wada's integrity.

The move came a day after the Canada-based sport doping watchdog revealed that a five-member panel would return from Moscow empty-handed after not being allowed to retrieve data from a suspended Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) laboratory.

The data had been required to complete Russia's controversial September reinstatement to sports by Wada after revelations of a state-backed doping programme.

"(Wada president) Craig Reedie is Nero, playing his fiddle while Russia burns clean sports to the ground," lawyer Jim Walden said.

"The time for half measures and appeasement must finally come to an end. If Rusada is not now banned, the last measure of Wada's integrity will vanish."

Rodchenkov, whose testimony unveiled the elaborate Russian doping scheme for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, is in hiding in the United States in the wake of death threats after the Russians were punished, including a ban from this year's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.

Wada gave the Russians a conditional release from the ban in September, but one of the requirements was full access to data at the Moscow lab.

That did not happen this past week as a Wada team had expected because, in the words of a Wada statement, "an issue raised by the Russian authorities that the team's equipment to be used for the data extraction was required to be certified under Russian law".

The data could exonerate Russia or incriminate the Moscow lab and the Russian doping programme as well as corroborating Rodchenkov's testimony.

Wada officials have said that they want to review the data and the Russians are to retest any samples Wada wishes by June 30 next year as part of the reinstatement deal.

Walden also commented on a new Bill introduced on Friday by US lawmakers that would criminalise international sports doping conspiracies that impact major international competitions.

The Bill was named for Rodchenkov, the former Moscow lab director.

Penalties will include fines of up to US$1 million (S$1.37 million) or imprisonment of up to 10 years, depending on the violation.

It also provides for restitution to victims of such conspiracies and for protection of whistle-blowers from retaliation.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2018, with the headline 'No key data from Russian lab, lawyer questions reprieve'. Print Edition | Subscribe