MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA, which was stripped of its international accreditation in 2015 after a doping scandal, has been given permission to plan and coordinate testing again under supervision in what WADA called a milestone decision.
The World Anti-Doping Agency, in announcing the change on Tuesday, said it was satisfied RUSADA had met four key demands.
RUSADA has been authorized to run tests, using its trained doping control officers (DCOs), under the supervision of WADA-appointed international experts and the British Anti-Doping Agency (UKAD), WADA said in a statement on its official website.
RUSADA was stripped of its WADA accreditation after a report published in November 2015 accused it of systematically violating anti-doping regulations.
WADA said in May that Russia would remain an outcast until four key demands were met, chief among them the removal of twice Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva from her position as head of RUSADA’s supervisory council and her replacement with an independent chair and vice-chair.
WADA said on Tuesday it was now satisfied with RUSADA’s fulfillment of the four demands, which included drug testers being allowed access to closed cities where it said athletes continued to evade testing, access to athletes’ biological passports, and the implementation of a conflict of interest policy.
WADA President Craig Reedie said this represented a milestone toward RUSADA’s retrieval of its accreditation although “there is still more to be done.”
“After much work by the Agency and its partners, resumption of testing represents an important step forward in rebuilding anti-doping in Russia,” Reedie said in a statement.
“We strongly encourage Russia to continue their efforts in the interest of clean athletes worldwide.”
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko welcomed WADA’s decision as a “very important step” toward RUSADA becoming compliant.
“We are striving to create a strong, independent anti-doping agency which, I hope, will win the respect and recognition of its colleagues,” R-Sport news agency quoted Mutko as saying.
Isinbayeva stepped down from her position as chair of RUSADA’s supervisory council last month, although she still remains a member.
Isinbayeva’s appointment last December had infuriated WADA because she was a virulent critic of the decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to ban Russian track and field athletes from international competition.
A majority of Russian athletes are set to miss the world championships in London in August if the ban is not overturned.
Fifteen athletes, including 2015 world champion hurdler Sergey Shubenkov, have so far been cleared by the IAAF to compete as neutrals in international competitions after having demonstrated they have been training in an environment that fulfils the necessary anti-doping requirements.
(Reporting by Moscow Newsroom; editing by Polina Devitt and Ken Ferris)