By Nick Mulvenney
SYDNEY (Reuters) – The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are still monitoring testing operations in Russia ahead of the decision on whether to reinstate the country, despite complications caused by the Ukraine war, president Witold Banka said on Tuesday.
The existing two-year ban from international sport imposed by WADA on Russia for widespread, state-sponsored infringements of doping regulations expires at the end of the year.
Some Russians have continued to compete internationally as “neutral” athletes, including at the last two Olympic Games, but the isolation of the country after the start of the war further complicated the process of ensuring doping compliance.
Banka, who reiterated WADA’s condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow calls a “special military operation”, said the organisation was still able to monitor the work of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).
“We have an open line communication with RUSADA to make sure that the war is not a paradise for cheats,” the Pole told reporters at WADA’s Global Education Conference in Sydney.
“We monitor them closely to see what they are doing … we didn’t close this line of communication.
“So what will be in the next weeks, months, due to the war and the situation in Ukraine, and the Russian situation, is hard to predict.
“We have to wait for the end of the year, we monitor what they are doing, let’s see in the next weeks or months what happens in terms of (readmitting) them to the system.”
RUSADA this week said it had completed its investigation into figure skater Kamila Valieva’s positive test and would soon be organising hearings on the case.
Valieva failed a doping test at the Russian national championships in December 2021 but the result was only made known on Feb. 8, a day after she had helped her team win a gold medal at the Beijing Olympics.
“We know the date when the hearing is so we have to wait until the decision and then WADA will decide what to do,” Banka added.
“We are monitoring this issue very closely and last month I expressed my will that they have to accelerate the process. Now that we know the hearing could be very soon. Let’s see.”
Skaters from United States and Japan, who finished second and third behind the Russian team in Beijing, have still not received their medals and their wait will be extended in the event that WADA appeals any RUSADA sanction handed to Valieva.
Earlier at the conference, Sport Integrity Australia (SIA) announced that supplements, which once caused up to a third of the country’s doping cases, had been responsible for no positive tests for Australian athletes in 2021-22.
“This is a great achievement and clearly shows the power of education,” Banka said.
“Education is the single best way to prevent doping in sport. More and more it is becoming a key pillar of what we do as the World Anti-Doping Agency.”
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)