WADA provisionally suspends approved status of Moscow Laboratory

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announces that it has provisionally suspended the WADA-approved status of the National Anti-Doping Laboratory of Moscow (Moscow Laboratory), Russia, with immediate effect, pending formal disciplinary action.

This provisional suspension prohibits the Moscow Laboratory from carrying out any work related to the analysis of blood samples in connection with the Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) program and will remain in place pending disciplinary proceedings to be carried out by an independent Disciplinary Committee.

On 21 January 2020, the WADA Laboratory Expert Group (LabEG) made a recommendation to the Chair of the Executive Committee (ExCo), Witold Bańka, to impose a provisional suspension in application of the International Standard for Laboratories (ISL), and Mr. Bańka agreed to do so with immediate effect. Under the terms of the ISL, a Disciplinary Committee will be mandated to make a recommendation to Mr. Bańka regarding the status of the laboratory’s ABP approval.

This step was taken in light of the ExCo decision of 9 December 2019 that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) again be declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code due to the discovery by WADA of manipulation of some of the data extracted from the Moscow Laboratory in January 2019, in breach of the conditions of RUSADA’s reinstatement in September 2018. The LabEG considered the intentional alteration and deletion of laboratory data prior to and during the time it was being forensically copied by WADA as a serious violation of the Code of Ethics of the ISL.

During the period of suspension, all ABP samples collected prior to the date of the provisional suspension may be analyzed by the Moscow Laboratory and the laboratory will need to contact all relevant Testing Authorities to determine whether any stored ABP samples need to be transported to a WADA-accredited or ABP-approved laboratory for further analysis.

WADA revoked the Moscow Laboratory’s full accreditation in 2015 following the exposure of Russia’s institutionalized doping program. In order to ensure the continuity of the haematological module of the ABP in Russia and, bearing in mind it is practically impossible for laboratories to interfere with the blood variables of samples due to the nature of the analytical equipment and the ABP principles in place, the Moscow Laboratory was approved for ABP analysis only, in May 2016. The laboratory’s accreditation for all other anti-doping activities remained revoked, as per the process.

According to the ISL, WADA is responsible for accrediting and re-accrediting anti-doping laboratories or approving them for ABP analysis only, thereby ensuring that they maintain the highest quality standards. This monitoring process is conducted in conjunction with International Organization for Standardization (ISO) assessment by independent national accreditation bodies that are full members of the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).