The head of a key World Anti-Doping Agency panel has defended waiting until mid-January before deciding what action to take after Russia’s anti-doping agency missed a deadline to hand over data from its Moscow laboratory.
Rusada was given until 31 December to comply, but Wada’s inspection team were denied full access to samples.
Wada’s compliance review committee (CRC) could recommend Russia is suspended again when it meets on 14 January, with the country having only been reinstated in September.
Some athletes and anti-doping organisations have demanded the panel convenes immediately, with Wada vice-president Linda Helleland calling on the agency to act “rapidly.”
But CRC chairman, British lawyer Jonathan Taylor QC, has now explained the process.
In a letter he sent to British Paralympic power lifter Ali Jawad, Taylor said the meeting was scheduled “to ensure that there was time for a full report to be provided by the Wada compliance taskforce and considered by the CRC in advance of the meeting, setting out the position and explaining the reasons for any non-compliance”.
He added: “In addition, in cases of non-compliance, the special fast-track procedure also requires Wada to give the Russian authorities a fair opportunity to make a submission for the consideration of the CRC.
“It might be said that there is nothing to be considered, the non-compliance is plain, the reasons are irrelevant, so following due process is futile and therefore unnecessary, but the courts do not like such arguments, and therefore the risk of successful challenge would be significant, which I don’t think anyone would want.
“With respect, I don’t think that this approach ‘lacks urgency’. I note your concern that waiting till 14-15 January might give the Russian authorities a further opportunity to provide the data, albeit after the deadline set.
“I am not sure why you think that would be such a bad thing. I thought everyone agreed that it is vital to get the data, so that it can be determined which of the athletes tested in the relevant period have a case to answer and which do not.”
Taylor said “that imperative is what drove” the CRC to recommend the reinstatement of Rusada in September, after a three-year ban that followed state-sponsored doping scandal.
He added: “If it is achieved, that is presumably a good thing, isn’t it, whether it happens on 31 December or next week?”
Wada president Sir Craig Reedie said he was “bitterly disappointed” after it was confirmed Rusada had missed the deadline, having previously said it was “very hard to believe” Russian authorities “won’t deliver”.
On Wednesday, Wada’s athlete committee said it was “extremely disappointed” the deadline was missed and that it expected Russia to be declared non-compliant following the process recommended by the CRC.