The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has moved another step closer to banning the use of xenon gas after it was put on the draft prohibitive list of substances following a meeting of its Executive Committee last month.
Xenon is being investigated by WADA following claims by German broadcaster WDR in February that members of the Russian team at Sochi 2014 inhaled the "performance enhancing" gas.
It also alleged that top Russian athletes have used xenon gas to improve their performance as far back as Athens 2004.
Academic studies suggest using the gas artificially increases erythropoietin (EPO) in the body, which encourages the formation of red blood cells and improves performance, particularly in the endurance events.
The head of Russia's Federal Biomedical Agency (FMBA), Vladimir Uiba, had indicated Russian athletes were using xenon gas but claimed it was not illegal.
However, it appears WADA may be taking a different view and following a meeting of its Prohibitive List Committee, xenon has been recommended to be put on the banned list for next year.
In a statement to insidethegames, a WADA spokesman confirmed that the substance could be banned by the autumn.
"WADA's list committee discussed the status of Xenon at its recent meeting on April 16 and 17," said the spokesman.
"The substance has been added to the draft 2015 prohibited list, which is currently undergoing a consultative review with relevant anti-doping stakeholders and will be discussed and approved by the Executive Committee in September.
"The final 2015 list will be published by October 1 2014."
Following the investigation by WDR in February, its former President Dick Pound, who is still part of the organisation's Foundation Board and is a member of the International Olympic Committee,condemned the use of xenon saying the he was "in no doubt that it is doping".
Despite this, in March WADA director general David Howman told insidethegames the use of xenon had been known for "years and years, before Athens 2004", but had not been previously looked at because "it wasn't an issue that needed to be addressed".
No Russian athletes failed a drugs test during the Games, but biathlete Irina Starykh was dropped from the Russian team days before the start of the Olympics after she admitted using a banned substance.
Russia topped the medal table at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics winning 13 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze medals, which included a clean-sweep in the men's 50 kilometres mass start cross country event.
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March 2014: WADA could ban performing enhancing gas after claims Russians used it at Sochi 2014
February 2014: WADA set to investigate claims Russians used performance enhancing gas at Sochi 2014