Tensions emerge at WADA meeting over Russia suspension

In September 2018, WADA conditionally lifted a ban on the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), paving the way for its reinstatement

The first signs of divisions within the World Anti-Doping Agency emerged on Thursday with officials aligned to the Olympic movement questioning the body's ongoing sanctions against Russia's tarnished drug-testing regime.

WADA suspended the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in 2015 after declaring it to be non-compliant following revelations of a vast, Moscow-backed scheme to avoid drug testers.

Officials from the global anti-doping watchdog's executive committee said on Wednesday the suspension remained in place, noting that Russia had failed to fulfill the criteria set by WADA required to reverse the sanction.

A WADA report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren accused Russian authorities of running an elaborate doping programme with the full support of the Russian Ministry of Sport and the Russian secret service or FSB.

Russian officials have concluded that their doping system failed, but have refused to acknowledge claims of institutional involvement.

One official told AFP tensions had flared at Wednesday's executive committee meeting over how the Russia case was being handled.

"The discussions were strained because the sports movement is pushing for a lifting of the sanctions," the official told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

Participants at WADA's Foundation Board meeting on Thursday also aired misgivings about the ongoing RUSADA suspension.

"Yes, we do have questions," said Patrick Baumann, a prominent member of the International Olympic Committee.

"We don't challenge the road map, we simply question for how long we want to follow that road map -- for the next 10 years, 20 years, 30 years?" he asked.

"What exactly are we asking on those two particular conditions? Are we asking for the (Russian) head of the state to come to this board meeting? We don't believe that would be appropriate."