RUSADA has signed a cooperation agreement with UKAD, according to Natalia Zhelanova ©RUSADA

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) has signed a cooperation agreement with UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), according to Natalia Zhelanova, an anti-doping adviser to Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.

Zhelanova today told Russian news agency TASS that the agreement will be in force until Russia’s anti-doping agency returns to its former accredited status.

In December, Zhelanova revealed the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had recommended UKAD to RUSADA to help Russia overhaul its drugs-testing system following the doping scandal which has engulfed the country.

"Under the agreement with WADA, RUSADA and UKAD will be responsible for planning the tests of Russian athletes," said Zhelanova.

"RUSADA and UKAD will also jointly decide on what laboratories will examine the doping samples.

"The joint activity of RUSADA and UKAD is limited to a certain time-frame.

"As I understand, UKAD will implement its services in Russia until RUSADA is acknowledged under [the] WADA Code and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency gets back its previous status."

Both agencies will also have the authority to consider applications for issuing therapeutic permission to athletes who have to take drugs on the blacklist due to health problems.

RUSADA was heavily criticised as part of the WADA Independent Commission report published in November, which confirmed allegations of systemic doping within Russian athletics.

The report accused RUSADA of "routinely" violating international testing standards and allowing athletes banned for doping to compete, despite having been suspended from competition.

The body was consequently declared non-compliant at a WADA Foundation Board meeting in Colorado Springs on November 18.

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Natalia Zhelanova is an anti-doping adviser to Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko ©Getty Images

Russia's anti-doping laboratory in Moscow also had its WADA accreditation revoked, with the body's tainted director Grigory Rodchenkov having resigned.

It had been thought possible RUSADA could be disbanded, with a new body set up in its place in a bid to remedy the situation, but Mutko ruled out this prospect.

Publication of the November report also led to the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) being suspended by the International Association of Athletics Association (IAAF), meaning they are unable to compete in top competitions and leaving them in jeopardy of being forced to miss Rio 2016.

An IAAF Task Force is currently working with Russia, who must meet a set of criteria for possible reinstatement. 

The lawyer of former ARAF President Valentin Balakhnichev confirmed last week that he is appealing to the Court of Arbitration for Sport after being handed a life ban from athletics for being part of a blackmail plot involving the covering up of Russian doping failures.

Papa Massata Diack, the consultant and son of former IAAF President Lamine Diack, was also banned by the IAAF Ethics Commission on January 7, along with long distance running and race-walking coach Alexei Melnikov.

Furthermore, former IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dollé was handed a five-year suspension. 

The quartet were being charged in relation to payments totalling approximately £435,000 ($634,000/€583,000) made by Russia's Liliya Shobukhova, the 2010 London Marathon winner and three-time Chicago Marathon champion, in order to cover-up doping violations.

But, despite having given evidence to the Ethics Commission, Balakhnichev vehemently denies the charges and claims they were politically motivated.