Athletics Doping: Russian Laboratory Suspended From Anti-Doping Activities

Russia has closed its only anti-doping laboratory after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) suspended its accreditation.

WADA released a report on Monday that found "systemic failures" in Russia's anti-doping policies and recommended that Russia be suspended from all international athletics competitions.

In a statement released on Tuesday, WADA said that the Moscow laboratory, which was Russia's only WADA-accredited facility, is not permitted to carry out any doping-related activities, including blood and urine tests. It said that all samples at the center would be transferred to an alternative WADA-accredited laboratory and that a disciplinary committee will decide the permanent fate of the center in the near future.

Later in the day, Nikita Kamaev, the head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, said that the laboratory had closed and insisted that the agency was acting "in full compliance with the demands of the WADA codex," according to Reuters.

The WADA report—produced by the global body that regulates doping in sports organizations— suggests that there is a "deeply rooted culture of cheating" ingrained at all levels of Russian athletics. Former WADA President Dick Pound, who chaired the commission behind the report, accused Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko of being "aware" and "complicit" in a state-sponsored doping program.

The WADA report found that the Moscow center's director, Grigory Rodchenkov, admitted to destroying more than 1,400 samples ahead of WADA inspections of the facility, and recommended that he be removed from his position.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the accusations of widespread doping and corruption in Russian athletics are "unfounded," the Guardian reported. "As long as there is no evidence, it is difficult to consider the accusations, which appear rather unfounded," Peskov said.

Mutko, who spearheaded Russia's successful bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, has also denied Pound's accusation that he must have been aware of doping. In an interview with broadcaster Russia Today, Mutko said that Pound's allegations were based on "unsubstantiated facts" and "unknown sources" and accused the former WADA chairman of overstepping the mandate of the commission.

Even as he announced the closure of the laboratory at the center of the allegations, Kamaev joined the voices denying that Russian doping authorities were ineffective.

"There are problems, but ... the objective facts, based on statistics, show that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency ... is quite effective," he said. "The agency takes the highest number of sanctions against transgressors in the world."

Kamaev added that some of the sources in the WADA report had themselves failed drugs tests, and questioned their credibility.

"When the words of a sportsman who has broken the rules several times, and has already been disqualified, carry more weight than ours, then questions arise," Kamaev said.

"The agency takes the highest number of sanctions against transgressors in the world."