WADA Compliance Review Committee chair  Jonathan Taylor has again defended the process taken over RUSADA ©LinkedIn

The World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) Compliance Review Committee (CRC) chair Jonathan Taylor has again defended the process taken regarding the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) following further criticism.

An ongoing exchange between Swedish biathlete Sebastian Samuelsson and Taylor has occurred since Russia missed the December 31 deadline to provide the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the underlying data from the Moscow Laboratory.

Samuelsson, a 4×7.5 kilometre relay biathlon gold medallist at Pyeongchang 2018, initially published an open letter urging the CRC to call an immediate meeting to declare RUSADA non-compliant. 

He also asked if RUSADA had been given a two week "extension" because of the CRC's plan to discuss the issue in Montreal on January 14 and 15.

The letter prompted a response from Taylor, who insisted that the CRC process did not "lack urgency" as Samuelsson had claimed.

He asserted that "due process" needed to be followed to allow Russia the opportunity to make a submission to the CRC and ensure any decision made was robust legally.

The increasingly terse exchange escalated yesterday when Samuelsson published another letter, prior to WADA's announcement that their expert team would return to the Moscow Laboratory tomorrow for their second attempt to retrieve the data.

An initial attempt failed last month as Russian authorities blocked a WADA team as their equipment was reportedly not certified under the country's law. 

Samuelsson's letter expressed his "continuing concerns and dismay" at Taylor's opinions, claiming the lawyer had not made "one acknowledgment that WADA is dealing with the single biggest scandal in sporting history".

He claimed the organisation had an "obsession with seeking legal loopholes, nuances, compromises and political games", while asking Taylor whether he wanted the CRC to "go down in history as the body that ducked and swerved the principles and severity of sport's biggest scandal".

Taylor has defended the CRC after Samuelsson's criticism, while again expressing the importance of receiving the data from the Moscow Laboratory.

"I am sorry you think it appropriate to accuse me/the CRC of lacking principles, of being unethical, and of being dishonest," Taylor wrote in a letter.

"I don't think those accusations are justified.

"I agree that Russian doping is an enormous scandal.

"That is why I helped the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and International Paralympic Committee take strong action to sanction it, then successfully defended that action at CAS.

"I also agree that the absolute priority is to protect clean athletes from cheating.

"The only way to prove who has been cheated is to get the data."

WADA's Executive Committee voted 9-2 in favour of lifting RUSADA's ban in the Seychelles in September, following a recommendation from the CRC.

The reinstatement came despite Russia not meeting two key re-compliance criteria - admission of the McLaren Report which outlined much of the doping evidence against them - and access to the Moscow Laboratory by the December 31 deadline.

Taylor denied the CRC had "secretly moved the goalposts" after the deadline miss, as alleged by Samuelsson, while repeating the assertion that due process was required.

"You want an immediate ban," Taylor wrote.

"The CRC wants the data, or else a ban that will stand up in court.

"I have explained why an immediate ban would be subject to challenge for lack of due process/unequal treatment.

"That is not 'seeking legal loopholes and excuses that most see as aiding the cheats'.

"It is about making sure that any ban stands up in court.

"I assume you would want that too.

"If the data are provided, it will be up to the relevant anti-doping organisations to take appropriate action.

"I know, for example, that the IAAF's Athletics Integrity Unit is very anxious to get the data relating to track and field athletes, so it can do just that.

"If anyone fails to take the necessary follow-up action, they can and should be held to account."

Following the update published by WADA yesterday, their expert team could potentially receive the key data at the Moscow Laboratory tomorrow after their five-member team left empty-handed last month.

WADA believe securing the data stored at the laboratory would help them to catch more drugs cheats.

After the CRC meeting on January 14 and 15, a recommendation is set to be made to the WADA Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee will then consider the recommendation in a conference call.

WADA President Sir Craig Reedie has claimed that the organisation is still working on the basis that the deadline was missed and appeared to suggest RUSADA could still be declared non compliant even if the data is acquired.

WADA have faced criticism of the process taken, which led to the organisation's founding President Richard Pound claiming there had been a "lynch mob".

Following the latest update, United States Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart claimed it was the sequel to a "cat and mouse game".

"This appears to be the sequel to the cat and mouse game between WADA and Russia that we have unfortunately come to expect," he said.

"We are all holding our breath this is not going to be a whitewash and WADA actually gets the data on the roughly 9,000 presumptive positive test results on over 4,000 Russian athletes that hopefully have not been destroyed."

USADA chief executive Travis Tygart labelled WADA's return visit to the Moscow Laboratory as being part of a
USADA chief executive Travis Tygart labelled WADA's return visit to the Moscow Laboratory as being part of a "cat and mouse" game ©Getty Images

Tygart had referred to the missed deadline as a "total joke and an embarrassment" last week.

The World Players' Association have also launched another call for "fundamental reform" of WADA governance.

Brendan Schwab, executive director of the organisation, has claimed the organisation has a "lack of independence and conflicted and politicised governance".

He also asserted it has an "inability to prevent and address sophisticated cheating including state-sponsored doping programmes" and has a "disproportionate and unjust sanctioning system which has disrupted or destroyed a significant number of athletes' careers and livelihoods".

Schwab suggested WADA could replace the existing partnership between governing bodies and Governments with a tripartite partnership in which athletes have an equal say.

This would be installed as part of the WADA Foundation Board, it was claimed.

It was also suggested the reformed Foundation Board would elect and hold to account a fully independent and merit-based Executive Board.

Guaranteeing a separation of powers, including an independent judiciary and arbitration body with a global remit, and embedding human rights into WADA's statutory text were also suggested.

"If implemented, the governance reforms would greatly enhance athlete confidence in the global anti-doping system, which faces many complex challenges," Schwab said.

"They would also lead to greater independence and accountability as well as protecting the fundamental rights of WADA's key stakeholder, the players and athletes.

"These steps are essential if the global anti-doping system is to be effective."

WADA passed a reform package in November, which includes the approval of having an independent President, which could come into effect in either 2023 or 2026 depending on the number of terms served by the successor to Sir Craig, who will be confirmed in November.

Expanding the Executive Committee by adding two new members, who will be independent but proposed by the public authorities and sports movement, and the establishment of an Ethics Board were also approved.

A Nomination Committee, whose responsibilities will include the vetting of future candidates for President and vice-president will also be established, while athletes and National Anti-Doping Organisations were also granted at least one place each on all Standing Committees.