© Copyright – 2018 – Athletics Illustrated

With the World Anti-Doping Agency so ready to reinstate Russia from sporting exile, due to systematic doping, they plan a so-called “full technical mission” to visit Russia next week to collect data from the Moscow Laboratory.

Let’s see how this goes. If Russia – Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the All Russia Athletics Federation continue to be complicit, will WADA admit they were overzealous in their desire to return Russia to international sport?

On Monday, Dec. 17, a five-person team will access a facility that is central to the Russian doping crisis.

According to Inside the Games:

They will take possession of the pivotal Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the underlying raw data stored in the building.

José Antonio Pascual, a research scientist and academic from Barcelona, will lead the mission as an independent expert.

He is said to have 30 years of anti-doping experience, including 25 years in laboratory management, and has headed the International Paralympic Committee’s Anti-Doping Committee.

WADA said they expected three days would be needed to complete the data extraction.

Granting access to the laboratory was a key condition set when WADA’s Executive Committee controversially lifted the suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency on September 20.

Russia had until Dec. 31 to provide access or faced being declared non-compliant again.

“Following an initial meeting last month between WADA and the Russian public authorities, we have been preparing for the full technical mission to gain access to the Moscow Laboratory and the relevant data, in line with the strict conditions set for RUSADA’s reinstatement,” said WADA director general Olivier Niggli.

“Gaining full access to the laboratory and the data contained within it was the reason behind the 20 September decision and it is satisfying that we are another step closer to realising that.

“The raw data is the missing piece of the puzzle that will complement the duplicate LIMS database that is already in WADA’s possession and help conclude WADA’s McLaren and Operation LIMS investigations.”

Today’s announcement comes after WADA held a two-day audit in Moscow this month.

Niggli said on Wednesday, Dec. 12 that RUSADA had taken another step towards becoming a “fully-trusted partner” after the visit.

But of course, WADA has relaxed the rules, softening their stance on two of the requirements to be completed before reinstatement. WADA’s moving of the needle doesn’t mean that Russia, with its culture of cheating, has changed its ways.

Let’s see how this goes.