The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has confirmed that work to extract data from the Russian Anti-Doping Agency's (RUSADA) Moscow Laboratory is still proceeding but admitted that the process is taking longer than had been originally estimated.
RUSADA was given a December 31 ultimatum to hand over crucial data from its Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) when it was controversially reinstated by WADA on September 20 last year.
Initially, RUSADA had been told it must hand over the data - which it is thought will help WADA catch more cheats - before being declared compliant again.
WADA then changed its own criteria in September, however, amid a deadlock, saying the decision would end an "impasse".
Defending the move, WADA's President Sir Craig Reedie said he could "100 per cent guarantee" the data would be received, but when a five-person team travelled to Moscow to extract it last month, they were turned away with the Russian authorities claiming their equipment was not certified under Russian law.
Last Wednesday (January 9), a smaller three-person WADA team returned to Moscow and this time they were allowed into the Moscow Laboratory.
They started their work to extract the LIMS data the following day.
"The work is still proceeding," a WADA spokesman told insidethegames.
"When the three-person expert team travelled to Russia to retrieve the data from the Moscow Laboratory, no limit was put on to the duration of the mission.
"It is taking longer than had been originally estimated but the team is facing no specific issues or difficulties in carrying out their task.
"The quantity and complexity of the data, as well as the fact the servers and hard drives being accessed are not all brand new, means it is simply taking longer than originally anticipated."
WADA's Compliance Review Committee (CRC) convened in Montreal on Monday (January 14) and yesterday, two weeks after RUSADA missed the deadline.
As a consequence of the five-person team being turned away in December, calls for the CRC to meet and immediately declare RUSADA non-compliant once again were widespread and came from individuals including WADA's own vice-president Linda Helleland.
WADA’s Athlete Committee, chaired by former cross-country skier Beckie Scott, and the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Athletes' Commission were other voices calling for the move.
It was claimed by WADA that the dates of the CRC meeting provided the earliest opportunity for all of its members to meet and that time was needed for the proper legal process to be followed.
Following two days of discussion, the CRC will now recommend a decision to the WADA Executive Committee, although it was announced on Saturday (January 12) that this body will not then hold a teleconference call to discuss its next move until January 22, a further week later.
That announcement sparked yet more criticism with some suggesting WADA is showing no urgency in the face of the biggest crisis in its history.
WADA justified the move by saying the extra week will give it time to properly review the CRC's recommendation.
When RUSADA was brought back into the fold in September, WADA director general Oliver Niggli stated it would be declared non-compliant again if it did not meet the December deadline.
"If Russian authorities do not deliver on what has been agreed or if RUSADA does not maintain the high operational standard it has now reached, then it will fall back into non-compliance once again," he said at the time.
However, in a New Year's address, IOC President Thomas Bach strongly hinted that Russia would receive no further punishment from them even if WADA does declare its anti-doping system non-compliant once again.
Moreover, despite Niggli's September comments, it is thought that, behind the scenes, WADA could be reluctant to banish Russia again now that its team has finally gained access to the Moscow Laboratory.
RUSADA were initially banned in 2015 following the emergence of a widespread Russian doping and sample swapping scheme.