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Russia Making Progress On Sports Drug Cheats But Must Do More, Agency Chief Says

The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Craig Reedie
The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, Craig Reedie

The head of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says Russia has made progress in its drive to weed out drug cheats among its athletes, but he said the country has more to do before it can be declared fully compliant.

Craig Reedie told Reuters on July 27 that a major condition for the country to regain its rights was “an admission that there was a problem” and “some declaration of contrition."

WADA suspended Russia’s anti-doping agency, RUSADA, after it was banned from testing in November 2015 following an independent investigation that determined systematic violations of anti-doping regulations.

A subsequent investigation alleged evidence of a state-sponsored doping program in Russia, which the Kremlin has denied.

WADA last month said that while RUSADA was still determined to be noncompliant, it was allowed to resume testing under supervision of internationally appointed experts and the U.K. Anti-Doping (UKAD) agency after it met several WADA conditions.

Both the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) still regard Russia as noncompliant.

"There's progress from our point of view...So there'll be a much, much bigger and stronger testing exercise in Russia now that there are more people to do it,” Reedie told Reuters.

“One of the problems we had, was there simply wasn't enough capacity in Russia to do all the checks that we wanted. There aren't enough independent testers in Russia," he added.

"One of the conditions for renewed compliance is actually an admission that there was a problem and hopefully some declaration of contrition," Reedie said. "And that's a condition that’s applied by the IAAF and it's a condition applied by the International Paralympic Committee, as well as by WADA."

Russian President Vladimir Putin denied in December 2016 that the government supported sports doping or the existence of a state-sponsored doping program.

He did acknowledge Russia had experienced doping problems.

"If that's an admission, then it's an admission," Reedie said. "Other people wouldn’t regard it as a sufficiently full admission. I don't think there's much doubt in our minds that they know what they have to do and we await their response with interest."

Some Russian athletes have been allowed to compete as "neutrals" in international events after demonstrating they have been operating within an effective testing system.

With reporting by Reuters
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