WADA revokes Moscow anti-doping laboratory’s license

Sports

MOSCOW (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency has revoked the Moscow laboratory’s license to test samples in a new twist in the long-running Russian doping saga, WADA said on Saturday.

WADA’s executive committee voted on Friday to strip the Moscow facility of its approved status, citing “the laboratory personnel’s manipulation of data” which was extracted from the lab in 2019. At the time, the data was located on servers and equipment at the laboratory which were sealed off by Russian law enforcement.

WADA wanted to use the data to prosecute cases which were covered up in the past but said later that year that entries for many cases had been tampered with, and fake messages were added to implicate witnesses. Russian authorities have denied the data stored at the lab was deliberately altered.

The laboratory had already been suspended since January 2020 and couldn’t accept new samples, but the process to revoke the status completely was held up by hearings at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland last year.

The laboratory was stopped from carrying out most drug testing in 2015 when cover-ups were first suspected, but it was allowed to resume some blood testing in May 2016. It accepted samples from sports including tennis, swimming and athletics, and was transferred by the government to the control of Moscow State University.

Blood samples decay faster than the urine samples used for most anti-doping work, so have to reach a lab quickly. If there isn’t a lab locally, it typically makes the entire blood testing process more expensive and time-consuming.

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