World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) director general Olivier Niggli told AFP that Russia’s competitors “are being tested” even though they disappeared from the world scene after Moscow’s attacks on Ukraine.
“The idea that Russians are not being tested right now is wrong,” he said. “They are being tested now.”
But Niggli said that reforming Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA – suspended due to widespread doping and corruption – was “difficult” as it was currently impossible to sent WADA officials to Moscow to make a preliminary assessment.
Athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus were banned from international competitions in response to Russia’s attacks.
But the International Olympic Committee said it was studying a “way” to allow athletes from those two countries to participate in the 2024 Paris Olympics, a proposal that was met with dismay by Ukraine.
The Russians could not participate in the Olympics in Paris the issue of doping is also highlighted.
WADA has banned Russia from major sports for four years in 2019 after it found doping data provided from its laboratory in Moscow had been manipulated.
Such data should have been released as part of the rehabilitation of RUSADA due to the extensive doping and corruption cases in which evidence was found that the Russian state supported doping between 2011 and 2015.
WADA said it will review RUSADA’s reinstatement in December after two years of non-compliance.
Niggli said the Russian attack does not affect WADA’s assessment of whether RUSADA will be allowed back into its fold.
“Armed conflicts … should not affect the anti-doping work we have done,” Niggli told AFP in an interview at WADA’s Lausanne headquarters.
“We follow an existing process… it has to be implemented whether there is a war or not, that’s why it’s a little complicated,” he said.
To confirm that anti-doping measures are being followed and that the information provided by RUSADA is correct, it was necessary to send people to Moscow, which is not possible now.
“We cannot send people to do a test in Moscow, for understandable reasons.
Niggli said that the conflict in Ukraine should not affect the actions of Russian officials, saying: “The war is not happening in Russia.”
He said that anti-doping tests are usually done throughout the year and rejected the idea that Russian athletes are not being tested now because of the ban from participating in international sports.