RUSADA director general Yury Ganus welcomed the decision from WADA ©Getty Images

Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) director general Yury Ganus has suggested meeting the next deadline will be more difficult than handing over access to data at the Moscow Laboratory after the organisation escaped further punishment from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

WADA's Executive Committee yesterday voted not to impose any sanctions on Russia, despite authorities failing to provide access to the data before December 31.

WADA warned, however, that Russian athletes could be banned from the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo if the data, which was eventually collected two weeks later, is found to have been tampered with.

The organisation also said the Compliance Review Committee (CRC) would recommend declaring RUSADA non-compliant if the nation fails to allow reanalysis of samples required by WADA by June 30, which could trigger the same sanction.

"I am satisfied with the decision of the WADA Executive Committee, which was guided by the spirit of the law and followed all norms," said Ganus.

"However, I would like to stress that only the first stage has been cleared.

"The main work, I mean the reanalysis of doping samples, is still ahead of us.

"I sincerely hope that a due precaution and thorough work will be in place, and all procedures will be in line with a proper format and will be completed by the set deadline.

"In fact, we need to start this work now."

British Paralympic powerlifter Ali Jawad claimed WADA's credibility was in tatters ©Getty Images
British Paralympic powerlifter Ali Jawad claimed WADA's credibility was in tatters ©Getty Images

Retrieving the data from the laboratory at the heart of the Russian doping scandal was seen as a positive even by the most ardent of WADA's critics.

But the decision not to impose any punishment for the missed deadline - a sanction the CRC and the Executive Committee claimed was not available to them as Russia had eventually provided the access they had demanded - was criticised by WADA vice-president Linda Helleland, British Paralympic powerlifter Ali Jawad and the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organisations (iNADO).

The reaction to the announcement lacked the level of uproar and outrage expressed when WADA controversially reinstated RUSADA in September, a decision which sparked a host of Western athletes and officials to speak out and call for change at the global anti-doping watchdog.

"I am pleased that WADA finally got access to the laboratory in Moscow," Helleland told insidethegames.

"But my opinion is that Russia should be non-compliant until we are sure that we have received all data and all data are verified."

In a statement, iNADO said WADA maintaining the compliance status of RUSADA "continues to prompt serious concerns for our community".

"It is very clear that, in light of the most serious imaginable circumstances, Russia has been granted more chances and, ultimately, leniency than any individual athlete or small country could expect to receive," the umbrella body added.

This view was supported by Jawad, who claimed WADA's credibility was "in tatters" and that the organisation had provided a different set of rules for Russia than those athletes have to abide by.

"WADA has imposed one set of rules for athletes and another for Russia," Jawad said.

"Given this, the athlete community is furious with WADA.

"The logical thing to do - and action that most athletes and sports fans worldwide expected WADA to take - was to make Russia non-compliant for missing the deadline until the process of the data can be fully authenticated.

"Russia should be bound to all strict rules that athletes are placed under every day, no ifs and no buts."

WADA President Sir Craig Reedie and director general Olivier Niggli claimed, however, that they had to follow "due process" and obtaining the data increased their chances of sanctioning Russian athletes involved in the doping scheme.

Niggli said a "realistic" number of potential cases was "a few hundred".

WADA director general Olivier Niggli believes a few hundred cases could arise after the data was obtained ©Getty Images
WADA director general Olivier Niggli believes a few hundred cases could arise after the data was obtained ©Getty Images

"It is a major step forward in the direction we are trying to achieve, which is to get to the bottom of the Russian saga and to be able to identify those who have really cheated," Niggli told the BBC.

"I think a realistic number could be a few hundred cases.

"I think this is very positive and this is the way it should be seen by, in particular, the athletes around the world, especially as some of the Russian athletes are still active."

WADA's intelligence and investigations department (I&I) is now in the process of authenticating the data and will provide updates to the CRC every two weeks on their progress.

If evidence of manipulation is found, the CRC has claimed it will convene "immediately" to review the facts.

Gunter Younger, head of the I&I, has previously admitted they are aware of concerns over potential tampering but claimed they were in a "very good position" to prosecute Russian cases.

"It is very complicated to falsify individual documents, but we are not naive," he said.