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Russia still has work to do to get ban lifted: WADA chief

Russia has been barred from international competition — including the Rio Olympics — since November 2015 following a damning report alleging state-sponsored doping in the country in numerous sports © AFP/File / GABRIEL BOUYS

LAUSANNE, Switzerland, Mar 13Russia still has “significant work” before its scandal tainted anti-doping operation regains global recognition, WADA chief Craig Reedie warned Monday.

The World Anti-Doping Agency chief said Russia’s national agency had not proved it was shielded against “outside interference.”

Reedie spoke at a WADA symposium in Lausanne as the Court of Arbitration for Sport ordered a life ban against Russian athletics doctor, Sergei Portugalov, one of the alleged masterminds of Russia’s “state-sponsored” doping system.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has been suspended since the eruption of the scandal over the widespread use of banned substances in Russian sport in 2014.

“There remains significant work to do (for RUSADA). It must demonstrate its processes are autonomous and independent from outside interference,” Reedie told the symposium.

“We continue the work to restore the compliance of the Russian agency.” WADA has had two experts in Moscow ” to ensure this independence,” Reedie added.

RUSADA was declared “non-complaint” with the international sports anti-doping code in November 2015 following an inquiry’s findings of state-sponsored, systematic doping in Russia.

– November target –

A report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren for WADA said the Russian sports ministry organised the doping.

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The Russian state has repeatedly denied any involvement.

Russian sports minister Pavel Kolobkov, who replaced Vitaly Mutko who was implicated in the McLaren report, said Monday that Russia hoped to be declared compliant by November.

WADA “has agreed to a road map to ensure that RUSADA is back in line with the World Anti-Doping Code,” Kolobkov told the symposium.

“Some of the criteria have already been achieved and we are working to ensure that all the criteria are met.

“The objective is to obtain a provisional conformity next May and RUSADA wants to regain its approval by November,” added Kolobkov.

“We have tripled RUSADA’s budget and we’ve placed the anti-doping laboratory under the control of the University of Moscow and no longer under the ministry of sports.”

The McLaren report said that as sports minister Mutko must have known about the “state-sponsored” doping programmes used to help Russian athletes at the 2012 London Olympics, 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, and the 2013 world athletics championships held in Moscow.

As a result Russian athletes were barred from competing at the 2016 Rio Olympics after Russia’s suspension by the IAAF.

Kolobkov, 47, a former Olympic fencing champion, took over from Mutko — also chief organiser of the 2018 World Cup and Russian deputy prime minister — in October 2016.

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The CAS, which handles Russian doping cases, on Monday ordered a “lifetime period of ineligibility” against Portugalov for supplying athletes with banned substances.

CAS said that Portugalov, who had served as the head of the Russian athletics federation’s medical commission, had been found to have possessed, trafficked and administered prohibited substances.

WADA recommended in a 2015 report that Portugalov take no part in any state sports programme after it found he had been key to rampant doping among Russian track and field athletes.

WADA said Portugalov was “very active in the conspiracy to cover up athletes’ positive tests in exchange for a percentage of their winnings.”

The agency said that Portugalov ran the doping programmes and “even injected athletes himself.”

While Russia remains banned from international track and field, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the world governing body, last month cleared pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova, sprinter Kristina Sivkova and Aleksei Sokirskii to compete at the world championships in August under a neutral flag.

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