VICTORIA (SEYCHELLES), Sept 21: The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) lifted a ban on Russia�s anti-doping agency, paving the way for Russian athletes to return to competition but also sparking claims of �treachery� and �dark shadows� cast over the fight against drugs in sport.
�Today, the great majority of WADA�s Executive Committee decided to reinstate RUSADA as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code subject to strict conditions,� WADA president Craig Reedie said on Thursday.
Reedie said the decision �provides a clear timeline by which WADA must be given access to the former Moscow laboratory data and samples�.
He said if the commitment was not met, WADA would reinstate the ban on the Russian anti-doping agency.
The decision was taken at a meeting of WADA�s Executive Committee in Victoria, capital of the Indian Ocean island of Seychelles.
The Russian government applauded the decision to lift RUSADA�s three-year suspension, saying it was the result of �enormous work� by Russian authorities to improve their procedures.
�We welcome WADA�s decision,� Deputy Prime Minister Olga Golodets was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying.
�Russia confirms its adherence to the principles of clean sports competition,� she said.
�Over the past years Russia has done enormous work to create transparent and understandable measures to prevent doping,� she said.
She said those measures included criminal prosecution for those who force someone to take banned substances.
However, condemnation of the decision was swift and brutal.
Linda Helleland, vice-president of WADA, said the decision to lift the ban �casts a dark shadow over the credibility of the anti-doping movement�.
�I am disappointed on behalf of clean athletes and everyone who believes in clean sport,� wrote Helleland, a Norwegian, who was one of only two WADA Executive Committee members to vote against.
�Today we made the wrong decision in protecting the integrity of sport and to maintain public trust. Today we failed clean athletes of the world.�
The US anti-doping body USADA called the decision to reinstate the Russian anti-doping body �a devastating blow to the world�s clean athletes�.
�In its landmark meeting today, WADA sent one clear message to the world: we put the wishes of a small handful of sports administrators above the rights of millions of clean athletes and the dreams of billions of sports fans,� USADA CEO Travis T Tygart said in a statement.
WADA suspended RUSADA in November 2015 after declaring it to be non-compliant following revelations of a vast Russian-backed scheme to avoid drug testers. � AFP