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WADA starts work on copying doping data in Moscow lab

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MOSCOW — World Anti-Doping Agency experts have started the process of copying data from a Moscow laboratory that could implicate numerous Russian athletes in past drug cases.

“Work has started with the equipment, setting the equipment up and copying the database,” Russia Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said Thursday in televised comments. “Work is proceeding with full coordination because we discussed all the technical and organizational details before then.”

In an emailed statement, WADA didn’t immediately confirm the data transfer had begun but said “the team has gained access to the lab and has not reported any issues so far.”

WADA demanded in September that Russia turn over the data by Dec. 31 in return for lifting a nearly three-year suspension of Russia’s national anti-doping agency. Many Western athletes and organizations criticized WADA for letting Russia provide data after the deadline.

An earlier WADA delegation left Moscow empty-handed in December after Russian officials alleged its equipment wasn’t certified under Russian law.

Travis Tygart, CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, said if Russia’s reports are accurate, “it’s a good thing,” but he still called for WADA to reimpose the RUSADA suspension and deal transparently with what he says are “9,000 presumptive positive drug tests.”

“Until that is done and the actual urine samples contained in the Moscow laboratory are seized by WADA as agreed, WADA should declare the Russians noncompliant for missing the hard deadline of Dec. 31,” Tygart said. “To be reinstated, they should be, at a minimum, required to cooperate with the dozens of international sport federations which have the responsibility to prosecute the individual cases.”

WADA is seeking data covering several years up to 2015, when the laboratory was shut down on its orders. WADA investigations found lab staff routinely covered up failed drug tests by hundreds of leading Russian athletes across dozens of sports.

That eventually led to Russia being punished with restrictions at last year’s Winter Olympics, where it fielded a smaller-than-usual team under the title “Olympic Athletes from Russia” and a neutral flag.

A vehicle bearing the insignia of the Investigative Committee, a Russian law enforcement agency, arrived at the lab earlier Thursday.

The Investigative Committee has sealed off data and samples at the lab as part of its own doping investigation. That has focused largely on depicting WADA’s key witness, former lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, as a liar who tricked innocent athletes into taking banned substances.

April Ross, Alix Klineman back atop Olympic beach volleyball qualifying

April Ross, Alix Klineman
FIVB World Tour
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Two-time Olympic medalist April Ross and new partner Alix Klineman moved back on top of the U.S. Olympic beach volleyball qualifying standings by winning an event in Itapema, Brazil this week.

Ross, who split from Kerri Walsh Jennings in 2017, and Klineman beat Canadians Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes 25-23, 18-21, 15-10 in Sunday’s final for their third title in 11 FIVB World Tour tournaments together.

“Every victory is important, but this counts for more,” Klineman said, according to the FIVB. “We want to send a message and we want to be consistently the best.

Ross and Klineman supplanted Walsh Jennings and her new partner, Brooke Sweat, for the lead in the early U.S. Olympic qualifying rankings with still more than a year of events ahead.

1. Ross/Klineman – 3,240 (5 events played)
2. Walsh Jennings/Sweat – 3,100 (7 events)
3. Day/Flint – 2,180 (5 events)
4. Hughes/Ross — 2,000 (4 events)
5. Larsen/Stockman — 1,840 (5 events)
6. Sponcil/Claes — 1,600 (3 events)

Each team’s 12 best results from Sept. 1, 2018, to June 14, 2020, go into the Olympic qualifying rankings. That means Ross and Klineman are comfortably in front, having played two fewer events than Walsh Jennings and Sweat, who lost in the quarterfinals in Itapema.

The top two U.S. pairs come June 15, 2020, provided they’re ranked high enough internationally, will qualify for Tokyo. Most of the qualifying events, including the ones with the most points available, are still to come this summer.

Ross, 36, picked up Klineman, 29, after Walsh Jennings didn’t join her in signing a domestic AVP contract in 2017. The 6-foot-5 Klineman primarily played indoor the previous decade, including at Stanford from 2007-10 after being the Gatorade National Player of the Year coming out of high school.

MORE: Brazil volleyball star faints during courtside interview

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Katie Ledecky extends 5-year win streak

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Katie Ledecky extended a five-year domestic win streak by taking the 200m freestyle at the Tyr Pro Swim Series at Bloomington on Saturday.

In her last full meet before July’s world championships, Ledecky clocked 1:55.80 to beat training partner Simone Manuel by 1.44 seconds for her second win in as many days. Ledecky is also entered in Sunday’s 800m free on the last day of the meet.

Ledecky, who also cruised to a 400m free victory on Friday, ranks third in the world in the 200m free this year, behind Australian Ariarne Titmus and Swede Sarah Sjöström (the Olympic silver medalist who is not expected to race the 200m free at worlds).

Ledecky, a five-time Olympic champion, hasn’t lost a 200m, 400m, 800m or 1500m free final at a domestic meet since Allison Schmitt beat her in a 200m free on Jan. 18, 2014 when Ledecky was 16 years old.

BLOOMINGTON: Full Results

But Ledecky lost the two biggest 200m frees of this Olympic cycle so far, at the 2017 World Championships and the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships. Italian veteran Federica Pellegrini handed Ledecky her first individual final defeat at a major international meet at 2017 Worlds.

Ledecky dropped to third in the 200m free at Pan Pacs in Tokyo last year, beaten by younger swimmers Taylor Ruck of Canada and Rikako Ikee of Japan.

Ruck, who like Ledecky trains at Stanford, is in Bloomington, but she chose not to swim the 200m free on Saturday. She instead swam the 200m backstroke about 45 minutes after the 200m free and was upset by 17-year-old Regan Smith. Smith won in 2:06.47, moving to No. 3 in the world this year.

In other events Saturday, Ella Eastin captured the 400m individual medley in 4:37.18, taking 1.25 seconds off her personal best and moving to fifth in the world this year. Eastin is not on the world championships team after an untimely bout with mono before qualifying meets last summer.

Blake Pieroni won the men’s 200m free in 1:47.25. No American ranks in the top 20 in the world this year. World silver medalist Townley Haas did not enter Bloomington.

MORE: Olympic breaststroke champion faces ban for missed drug tests

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