MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s suspended anti-doping agency RUSADA appointed a new director general on Thursday, 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.
WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, suspended RUSADA after a report published in November 2015 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 RUSADA’s suspension lifted.
RUSADA said in a statement on Thursday it had unanimously elected Yuri Ganus, 53, as its new director general.
Ganus, who said he sat on the board of Russian sports publication Sovetsky Sport, said he wanted to swiftly restore trust in Russia’s anti-doping system.
“The main task is to get all Russian sportspeople and federations readmitted to international competition in short order, to get restrictions on holding international competitions on Russian soil lifted, and to integrate RUSADA’s work into WADA’s international system,” Ganus said in a statement.
The selection of a new director general via “a transparent, external and objective application and recruitment process” was one of 12 outstanding reinstatement criteria which RUSADA had to fulfil, WADA said earlier this month.
WADA allowed RUSADA in June to start planning and coordinating testing under the supervision of international experts, a move it called a milestone decision.
But WADA this month stressed that RUSADA still had to fulfil several reinstatement criteria, including giving testers access to urine samples stored in a Moscow anti-doping laboratory.
WADA, which is tentatively scheduled to audit RUSADA next month, also demanded that the authorities responsible for Russia’s anti-doping programme, including the Ministry of Sport and the National Olympic Committee, publicly accept the conclusions of the McLaren Investigation, which uncovered widespread state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
Although Russia’s athletics federation remains suspended over the doping scandal, several Russians have been cleared to compete internationally as neutral athletes.
Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Osborn