The accreditation of Russia's drug testing laboratory in Moscow has been suspended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), it has been announced today.
This is a sign of "immediate action" following the recommendations of the WADA Independent Commission Report published yesterday, which highlighted how the Centre is non-compliant with the the World Anti-Doping Code.
The suspension, which takes effect immediately, prohibits the Centre from carrying out any WADA-related anti-doping activities, including all analyses of urine and blood samples.
It will not be lifted for at least six months, WADA warned.
The Centre now has 21 days to appeal the decision to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
“WADA has acted swiftly to one of the key recommendations made by the Independent Commission in its Report,” said the body's President Sir Craig Reedie.
"The Moscow Laboratory is provisionally suspended, and the status of the laboratory’s accreditation beyond that will be decided by a Disciplinary Committee which will be formed shortly to review the case.”
In the meantime, all samples for the Moscow Antidoping Centre will now be transported "securely, promptly and with a demonstrable chain of custody to an alternative WADA-accredited laboratory", said a statement.
This Disciplinary Committee will eventually issue a recommendation with respect to the laboratory’s accreditation status if appropriate improvement are made.
The denials from Russian Government figures, including Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov, since the report was published yesterday suggests this may be difficult, however.
Grigory Rodchenkov, director of the Moscow laboratory, was specifically identified in the report as an "aider and abettor" of the doping activities, recommending how he should be "permanently removed from his position”.
WADA's Independent Commission claimed they had interviewed Rodchenkov twice during their investigations and he admitted to intentionally destroying nearly 1,500 samples in order to limit the extent of WADA's audit and reduce any potential adverse findings from subsequent analysis by another WADA-accredited laboratory.
"The intentional destruction of the 1,417 samples done with the purpose of obstructing WADA's ability to conduct follow-up analysis on the samples was corroborated by another staff member who heard similar admissions directly from Dir. Rodchenkov," the report said.
It later adds: "The IC further finds that at the heart of the positive drug test coverup is Dir. Rodchenkov.
"He not only accepted, but also requested money in order to execute the concealment positive test results, which makes him equally responsible for incidents where coaches or officials extorted athletes even if he was not personally made aware of the extortion."
Rodchenkov has hit back, though.
He has told The Times that WADA are "idiots".
He added: "The report is full of lies and most of the witnesses are inadequate."
The 323-page report recommended that any eventual reaccreditation process in respect of the Moscow Laboratory, focus, "in addition to scientific expertise and quality control, on measures that will ensure that it operates, in fact, entirely independently from any other agency, institution, Government ministry or other outside influence".
The laboratory should also "promptly and continuously disclose to WADA the terms of all contracts regarding scientific and other assistance provided to it, as well as any other information requested by WADA".
In a statement responding to Rodchenkov's comments this afternoon, a WADA spokesperson told insidethegames how they "believe the report to be full, thorough, credible and conducted very professionally.
"The report is good news for clean athletes as recommendations are acted upon and corrective action is taken to restore confidence in the anti-doping system in Russian athletics."
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