WADA to begin audit of Russian anti-doping agency

FILE PHOTO - A woman walks into the head office for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) in Montreal, Quebec, Canada on November 9, 2015. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi/File Photo Picture Supplied by Action Images

(Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) will begin an audit of Russia's anti-doping programme this week as it prepares to make a recommendation on whether to reinstate the Russian agency, the organisation said on Sunday.

RUSADA has been suspended by WADA since a report published in November 2015, led by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, found evidence of state-sponsored doping and accused it of systematically violating anti-doping regulations.

Russian authorities deny there was a state-backed doping programme, but have pledged to follow international recommendations to get the suspension lifted.

WADA's compliance review committee will hold a special meeting on Oct. 24 to hear a report on the audit, the anti-doping agency said in a statement after its executive board met in Paris.

The review committee will then make a recommendation to WADA's board meeting in November on whether to reinstate RUSADA.

The Russian agency last month appointed a new director general as part of Moscow's push to rehabilitate its tarnished sporting image and overturn a ban on most of its track-and-field athletes competing internationally.

The executive committee, which heard a report on Russia's progress, again emphasised RUSADA must fulfil a roadmap it developed with WADA and Russian officials before any recommendation on reinstatement can be made.

This includes Russia publicly accepting the outcomes of the McLaren investigation into the country's doping violations and providing access to stored urine samples in the Moscow laboratory.

More than a dozen national anti-doping agencies have called for Russia to be banned from the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, but WADA President Craig Reedie has criticised the agencies, saying the request was not helpful.

(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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