Russia is again facing a possible Olympic ban after the World Anti-Doping Agency's Compliance Review Committee (CRC) recommended on Friday that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) be ruled non-compliant.
The CRC put forward the recommendation after WADA's Intelligence and Investigations Committee found evidence of manipulation of data retrieved from a tainted Moscow laboratory in January.
A report along with the recommendation has been sent to the WADA executive committee which will discuss the findings at a meeting in Paris on Dec. 9.
If ruled non-compliant, Russia could be excluded from next year's Tokyo Olympics.
As punishment for failing to respond to the doping crisis, Russia was banned from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics although its athletes were allowed to compete as neutrals under the Olympic flag.
Russia found itself again under the doping microscope when WADA revealed in September historical data supplied by the country’s anti-doping authority contained “inconsistencies” that resulted in a decision to open a formal compliance procedure.
The non-compliant recommendation is the latest twist in the long-running doping saga that stretches back to 2015 when RUSADA was first suspended after a WADA-commissioned report outlined evidence of systematic, state-backed doping in Russian athletics.
Another report the following year documented more than 1,000 doping cases across dozens of sports, notably at the Winter Olympics which Russia hosted in Sochi in 2014.
In a controversial decision last September, the WADA executive committee voted to conditionally restore RUSADA’s accreditation on the agreement that Russia would turn over data in a discredited Moscow lab.
The Russian agency missed the December deadline but after last-minute brinkmanship a WADA inspection team was finally allowed to retrieve the data in January, recovering more than 2,200 samples.
That was expected to bring an end to the Russian doping affair, only to see it get new life when evidence of tampering was unearthed.
WADA said RUSADA and the Russian Ministry of Sport were given an opportunity to explain the inconsistencies by answering a list of detailed and technical questions, including follow-up questions, raised by the Intelligence and Investigative Committee and the forensic experts.