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International officials urged not to reinstate Russia's embattled anti-doping agency

With a crucial Thursday vote drawing near, international anti-doping officials are facing global resistance to the idea of reinstating the embattled Russian Anti-Doping Agency.

It was earlier this month that news broke of the World Anti-Doping Agency potentially relaxing some of the conditions it had placed on RUSADA, which was suspended about three years ago in the midst of the Russian doping scandal.

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On Wednesday, international track athletes joined a chorus of voices opposed to any shift in WADA’s original “roadmap” for reinstatement.

“The sporting community around the world has spoken and the message is consistent and clear,” the athletes commission of the International Assn. of Athletics Federationstated in an open letter. “RUSADA cannot be declared compliant until all outstanding conditions set out in the Roadmap have been satisfied.”

Russia originally came under scrutiny after investigators uncovered evidence of systemic cheating among athletes, coaches, officials and government agencies.

The country’s track athletes were quickly banned from international competition and many of its athletes in other sports were barred from the 2016 Summer Olympics.

RUSADA incurred sanctions after Russian anti-doping labs were accused of meddling with samples to protect athletes.

WADA initially insisted Russia accept its McLaren Report, which noted government involvement in the scandal, as a condition of reinstatement. It now appears Russia might be allowed to acknowledge another report, commissioned by the International Olympic Committee, that focuses less intently on the government’s role.

There have also been suggestions of compromise regarding the analytical data that RUSADA must hand over to international authorities.

This week, numerous sports organizations — including the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency — expressed concerns about the matter.

Within WADA, former Olympic cross-country skier Beckie Scott resigned from a key panel and vice president Linda Helleland voiced her intention to vote against reinstatement.

In their Wednesday letter, track athletes similarly called for a “no” vote.

“Our request is simple: follow the rules that you’ve created the same way we are expected to,” they wrote. “You owe it to all clean athletes to be the guardians of clean sport.”

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