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WADA says new court ruling can reopen Russian doping cases

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – A landmark court ruling in Russia’s doping saga should prompt Olympic sports federations to re-examine evidence of possible disciplinary proceedings against other athletes, the World Anti-Doping Agency said on Saturday.

Three Russian canoeists, including a 2012 Olympic champion, were suspended by the Sports Arbitration Court on Friday for participating in a government-sponsored doping program eight years ago.

WADA prosecuted the case using evidence obtained from a Moscow laboratory that had been tampered with and withheld by Russian authorities for some years.

WADA has shared Moscow lab data with about 40 other sports federations since 2019 and now wants some of them to review these cases after the evidence has been held in court.

“It sets a precedent. If they have similar evidence, they should pursue the cases,” WADA Director-General Olivier Niggli told The Associated Press on Saturday.

He was speaking on the sidelines of a WADA annual conference that described the Moscow lab affair as the “largest and most complex investigation in world sport” costing millions of dollars.

WADA has questioned the commitment of some governing bodies to investigate the Russian athletes, most of whom have withdrawn from competition.

The most recent cases were only judged before CAS after WADA appealed the International Canoe Federation’s refusal to conduct a prosecution using the evidence presented.

Niggli suggested “there might be one or two” Olympic sports that should reopen cases against Russian athletes.

The Russian doping program led to widespread fraud at the London 2012 Olympics and an infamous pattern swapping scheme at the Sochi 2014 Winter Games to cover up anabolic steroid doping.

The year-long program relied on staff from Moscow testing labs working with state agencies to hide positive drug tests and tamper with data entries into the global anti-doping system.

In 2018, WADA asked Russia to hand over a clean version of the Moscow database to end the scandal. Russian manipulations of the data led to a CAS decision banning the team name, flag and anthem from last year’s Tokyo Olympics and the Beijing Winter Games in February.

In the canoe cases, only the CAS verdict was made on Friday. The judges’ detailed reasoning on which evidence was convincing is expected to be released within weeks.

This pending document should help other sports decide how to track their own cases, Niggli said.

In other Russian issues discussed Saturday, WADA said reliable testing of athletes there continued despite the aftermath of the country’s war against Ukraine. Russian athletes are also banned from most sports from competing abroad where they could be tested.

Anti-doping officials in Russia can still ship samples to Turkey and elsewhere for testing and wire money to pay labs to do the work, Niggli said.

The best-known Russian doping case involves figure skater Kamilia Valieva, whose positive test for a banned heart drug was revealed belatedly during the Beijing Olympics. She was cleared to skate as a gold medal favorite, but an error-filled program dropped her to fourth place.

Niggli said an early August target date for the Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA to complete its investigation is “not a hard deadline. For procedural reasons it sometimes takes longer.”

The Russian verdict can be appealed to CAS by WADA if it is not satisfied with the verdict or the integrity of the investigation.

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More AP sports coverage from Europe: https://apnews.com/hub/sports-europe and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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