(Reuters) - The first batch of doping cases built on evidence secured from a tainted Russian laboratory have been turned over to international federations (IFs), the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Tuesday.
WADA said that of 298 Russian athletes in a target pool identified by its Intelligence and Investigations unit (I&I) as having suspicious data, 43 had been reviewed and evidentiary packages compiled.
These packages have been sent to the relevant IFs, which have commenced assessment of the evidence with a view to identifying those cases to take forward as Anti-Doping violations.
The next step is to have the data reviewed by lab experts.
WADA said it hoped that by the end of 2019, all priority cases will have been investigated bringing a conclusion to the long-running Russian doping saga.
“WADA I&I continues to make good progress on this long-running and complex case,” said the director of WADA I&I Gunter Younger in a statement. “The fact that we have moved to the results management phase means we are another step closer to bringing to justice those who cheated.
“This is an excellent development for clean sport and athletes around the world.
“There is still a lot of work left to do but we wish to acknowledge the ongoing cooperation with IFs as well as RUSADA (Russian Anti-Doping Agency).”
WADA said it also met with the International Association of Athletics Federation’s (IAAF) Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) in June and provided them with raw data for athletes, including those who are part of the target pool.
The AIU will now review the information before submitting a report to the IAAF, the sport’s global governing body, which has yet to reinstate Russia.
In June the IAAF extended a ban against Russia’s athletics federation, which has been suspended since 2015 over evidence of mass doping in the sport.
RUSADA was suspended in 2015 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 that 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.
After some brinkmanship and false starts WADA was allowed access to the laboratory in January and returned with data and samples now being used to build cases against Russian drug cheats.
“None of this progress would be possible without WADA’s ExCo decision of September 2018,” said Younger.
Editing by Ken Ferris