Russia is a step closer to facing a possible ban of its athletes from the Winter Olympics in South Korea after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) upheld its decision that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) remains non-compliant.
WADA tweeted its ruling following a foundation board meeting in Seoul on Thursday, less than three months before the opening ceremony of the Winter Games in Pyeongchang in February.
The tweet read, "WADA Foundation Board approves the recommendation by the Independent Compliance Review Committee that RUSADA remain non-compliant."
Russia's anti-doping agency was initially deemed non-compliant after the 2016 publication of the McLaren report, commissioned by WADA, which found the Russian state conspired with athletes and sporting officials to undertake a doping program that was unprecedented in its scale and ambition.
Russia's ministry for sport has repeatedly denied the report's findings.
In order to regain compliance, RUSADA had to follow a 32-point "roadmap." However, WADA said Thursday it had failed to meet two of those conditions: to acknowledge an existence of a Russian state-sponsored doping program and to provide WADA access officers to a Moscow laboratory.
RUSADA director-general Yuri Ganus said the result "wasn't a surprise" but insisted that his team had "carried out the road map step by step, tracking each stage," and that the two unfulfilled points "go beyond our authority."
The Kremlin on Tuesday said it hoped Russia could mend its relations with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), adding that the country’s absence from the Pyeongchang Winter Games would be a blow to the Olympic movement.
Calls from some athletes and anti-doping agencies for a blanket ban of Russians in Pyeongchang have been growing louder amid ongoing IOC investigations into doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The IOC is re-testing all Russian athletes’ samples from the 2014 Games following revelations by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow’s discredited anti-doping laboratory, of a scheme to cover up home competitors’ positive samples.
The IOC has said it would decide on the participation of Russian competitors at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February during its executive board meeting next month.