The World Anti-Doping Agency reinstated Russia on Thursday despite a wave of protests, ending the nearly three-year suspension of the country’s drug-testing program because of a state-sponsored doping scheme.
The move drew instant criticism from anti-doping figures, athletes and sports organization bodies around the world.
The lawyer for the Russian whistleblower, Grigory Rodchenkov, who was partially responsible for the ban, called it “the greatest treachery against clean athletes in Olympic history”.
Russia still hasn’t admitted state involvement or given access to evidence at its discredited Moscow laboratory — two key conditions for reinstatement set by WADA but eased in recent months.
On Thursday, WADA president Craig Reedie said the reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), was “subject to strict conditions”, adding that the decision “provides a clear timeline by which WADA must be given access to the former Moscow laboratory data and samples”.
During the WADA meeting in Seychelles, nine of the 12-member executive committee voted in favor of the recommendation, with two against and one abstention.
RUSADA was suspended in November 2015 after it was revealed there was a government-backed scheme of doping and cover-ups that helped Russian athletes win Olympic medals, including while the country hosted the 2014 winter games in Sochi.
Last week WADA’s compliance review committee recommended RUSADA’s reinstatement after it received assurances from the Russian sports ministry, saying the country had “sufficiently acknowledged” failures.
Anti-doping figures — some within WADA itself — continue to accuse Russia of systematic doping.
“The United States is wasting its money by continuing to fund WADA, which is obviously impotent to address Russia’s state-sponsored doping,” Jim Walden, Mr. Rodchenkov’s lawyer, told the BBC on Thursday. Mr. Rodchenkov served as director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory during the 2014 Sochi games.
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) head Travis Tygart called the reinstatement decision “bewildering and inexplicable” and a “devastating blow to the world’s clean athletes”.
U.K. Sport urged WADA to “fully and transparently” explain its reasons for lifting the ban, adding that it was “disappointed” by the move.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.