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28 Nov, 2018 16:28

'A sign we're making progress': WADA experts visit Moscow lab at center of doping claims

'A sign we're making progress': WADA experts visit Moscow lab at center of doping claims

Experts from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) have visited the Moscow laboratory at the center of doping claims against Russia, as the sides move ahead with the agreement reached for Russia's reinstatement.

Russia agreed to provide WADA with access to computer data by the end of the year, as part of the terms agreed when the Russian Anti-doping Agency (RUSADA) was reinstated in September following a three-year suspension.

Russia must also provide access to athletes’ stored samples by the middle of next year, as WADA officials assess key data from the Moscow laboratory which was suspended amid reports of state-sponsored doping activities.

The initial visit by the delegation this week is understood to be a preparatory one to discuss further steps to access data.

Some critics, including the lawyer for disgraced former doctor-turned-whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, have claimed that Russia could withhold key evidence from WADA.

However, WADA science director Olivier Rabin said that the organization was “very pleased to be here in Russia for this important meeting.”

“We believe it’s a sign that we are making progress in our discussions with the Russian authorities,” he added.

READ MORE: 'We trust that RUSADA will keep their promises’ – WADA Director General Niggli

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov confirmed that the WADA specialists had been given access to the lab, but added: “at this stage it is too early to speak of deadlines and the amounts of work ahead.”

WADA reinstated the Russian anti-doping authorities in September, declaring them compliant with the organization’s code after an Executive Board vote.

READ MORE: WADA reinstates Russian anti-doping agency, ending 3-year suspension

As well as agreeing to provide access to the Moscow laboratory and data, the Russian Ministry of Sport said it accepted the decision to ban the country from the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, which was based on the findings of the Schmid Report on doping activities.