December 27, 2018 / 3:57 PM / 9 months ago

Russian anti-doping chief appeals to Putin as lab deadline looms

MOSCOW, Dec 27 (Reuters) - The head of Russia’s anti-doping agency (RUSADA) urged President Vladimir Putin on Thursday to ensure that federal investigators handed laboratory data to the World Anti-Doping Agency to prevent Russia once again being ostracised in global sports.

RUSADA is on the verge of suspension after WADA was last week denied the promised access to data from Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory. A WADA-commissioned independent report had found that the lab was involved in a huge state-sponsored doping scheme, a scandal that eventually resulted in Russia’s exclusion from sporting events including the 2018 Olympics.

RUSADA was conditionally re-accredited by WADA in September despite opposition from athletes and sports authorities around the world, but will lose its status again unless Russia’s Investigating Committee, which is holding the data for its own probe, hands it over by the end of the year.

In a video address to Putin, RUSADA director Yuri Ganus said a new suspension could badly damage Russian sport.

“Stripping RUSADA, the core of Russia’s anti-doping system, of its (WADA) compliance status ... will lead to the self-isolation of Russian sport,” Ganus said.

“We are on the edge of an abyss and I ask you to protect the present and future of clean sport, and future generations of athletes.”

Russia was barred from this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Olympics after WADA found evidence of an extensive cover-up of state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Winter Games, held in the Russian resort of Sochi.

Russia remains excluded from international athletics, although certain Russian athletes certified as clean have been allowed to compete in intenational athletics - as well as the Olympics - under a neutral flag.

“The current situation cannot last,” Ganus said. “It requires an immediate resolution.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

RUSADA was stripped of its accreditation in 2015 after a WADA-commissioned report found evidence of large-scale state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

Moscow denies that there has been any state-sponsored doping, although it has acknowledged some shortcomings in its enforcement of anti-doping regulations. (Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber)

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