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WADA President Craig Reedie

Russia faces the possibility of renewed sporting sanctions after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) confirmed that Russian officials failed to hand over data from its anti-doping laboratory by December 31.

WADA President Craig Reedie said on January 1 that he was "bitterly disappointed" that the year-end deadline was missed by Russian officials and said the international anti-doping watchdog will now consider imposing sanctions on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).

RUSADA was stripped of its accreditation in 2015 after a WADA-commissioned report found evidence of widespread state-sponsored doping in Russian track and field and other sports.

RUSADA was conditionally reinstated in September, a move that was widely criticized by members of the anti-doping movement.

Reedie said WADA's Compliance Review Committee will meet on January 14 to review the situation and make a recommendation on how RUSADA's failure should be handled.

If RUSADA loses its accreditation again, it could lead to Russian athletes being kept from participating in the next Olympics and the continuation of the ban on the country's track-and-field athletes from participating in international competitions.

Reedie said WADA had worked "dilligently with the Russian authorities to meet the deadline, which was clearly in the best interest of clean sport."

He said WADA has informed Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov and RUSADA Director-General Yury Ganus about the situation.

Kolobkov had said on December 29 that Russian officials and WADA were discussing a date for WADA experts to visit and receive laboratory data.

WADA said an inspection team visiting the Moscow lab was denied access to data last month after Russian authorities said the inspection team's equipment was not certified under Russian law.

Critics of Russian sports officials urged WADA to take a hard line against Moscow.

"The situation is a total joke and an embarrassment for WADA and the global anti-doping system," said Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency.

"In September, WADA secretly moved the goalposts and reinstated Russia against the wishes of athletes, governments, and the public," he said. "In doing this, WADA guaranteed Russia would turn over the evidence of its state-supported doping scheme by today."

He added: "No one is surprised this deadline was ignored, and it's time for WADA to stop being played by the Russians and immediately declare them noncompliant for failing yet again to meet the deadline."

But in his New Year's message, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said Russia had been sufficiently punished.

"With its suspension from the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the Russian Olympic Committee has served its sanction," he wrote.

The IOC lifted its ban on Russian athletes at the conclusion of the Winter Olympics.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, and dpa
An Indian journalist lights candles during a vigil for Afghan journalists killed in a targeted earlier this year.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) says the number of killings of working journalists and news staff increased in 2018, ending an overall decline experienced in recent years, with Afghanistan topping the danger list.

The trade association said in its annual report released on December 31 that 94 journalists and media workers died in targeted killings, bomb attacks, and conflict crossfire in 2018.

That was an increase from the 82 deaths reported in 2017, the Brussels-based group said.

The toll this year was the highest since 121 people working for news organizations were killed in 2012.

Since the IFJ began its annual count in 1990, the peak year was 2006, when 155 work-related killings were reported.

The deadliest country in 2018 was Afghanistan, where 16 of the killings occurred. That was followed by Mexico with 11, Yemen with nine, and Syria with eight.

Nine of those slain in Afghanistan were killed in April by a suicide attack against a group of journalists in Kabul. Two others were killed in June when a second bomb exploded after they rushed to cover a bombing at a wrestling training center in Kabul.

"Journalists are targeted because they are witnesses," IFJ President Philippe Leruth told the Associated Press. "And the result of this, when a journalist or many journalists are killed in a country, you see an increase of self-censorship."

The United States soared to sixth on the list, with five killings, tied with Somalia and Pakistan. On June 28, a gunman in Annapolis, Maryland, fatally shot four journalists and a sales associate in the newsroom of the Capital Gazette newspaper. The man had threatened the publication after losing a defamation lawsuit.

The most high-profile journalist slaying was that of Saudi opposition writer Jamal Khashoggi, a columnist for The Washington Post and a U.S. resident.

Khashoggi, a critic of Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman, was killed by a team of Saudi agents in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Saudi Arabia has denied reports that the crown prince was linked to the murder that sparked global condemnations.

"Jamal Khashoggi was a very well-known figure, but you know, the most shocking statistic is that we know that nine of 10 journalist murders remain unpunished in the world," the IFJ's Leruth said.

The media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on December 18 said 2018 was a year of "unprecedented" hostility toward journalists around the world.

More than half of the journalists killed during the year were "deliberately targeted."

The reports reinforce findings of the media rights group Committee to Protect Journalists, which said in October that 324 journalists during the past decade had been "silenced through murder worldwide" and that no perpetrators had been convicted in more than 85 percent of those cases.

With reporting by AP and AFP

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"Watchdog" is a blog with a singular mission -- to monitor the latest developments concerning human rights, civil society, and press freedom. We'll pay particular attention to reports concerning countries in RFE/RL's broadcast region.


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