Members of the Russian Sports Ministry have been withdrawn from the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), it was announced today.
RUSADA was declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code last November, following the publication of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission Report, chaired by Richard Pound, which made allegations of systemic doping within Russian athletics.
The report was swiftly followed by the Richard McLaren investigation into claims of state sponsored doping at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, after allegations were made by former Moscow Laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov.
McLaren’s initial report, which is due to be fully revealed at the end of October, alleged the presence of a state-sponsored doping scheme at a number of major events as well as the Sochi Games.
It allegedly showed that the Russian Sports Ministry "directed, controlled and oversaw" a "unique" method of sample manipulation at Sochi 2014, involving a sample-swapping method where they were able to open and reseal supposed tamper-proof bottles.
Despite calls being made to introduce a blanket ban on Russians at Rio 2016 as a result, the International Olympic Committee allowed International Federations (IFs) to decide the fate of their athletes sport by sport.
A total of 271 Russians eventually competed in Rio, with the country ending up with 56 medals - 19 golds, 18 silvers and 19 bronze - compared with the 77 they managed to claim at London 2012.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), however, opted to ban the country from competing at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games outright.
It was confirmed today that in a bid to boost the "independence and transparency" of RUSADA, members of the Russian Sports Ministry, a Government department led by Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, would be withdrawn from the organisation.
"Ministry of Sports of Russia expresses its full commitment to the ideals of clean sport and expressed confidence that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, for which there are no administrative levers of influence, will soon restore its full functionality," a statement said.
The decision follows the establishment of an anti-doping commission in the country, which was announced in July.
This is led by honorary IOC member Vitaly Smirnov, and has been tasked with focusing on attempting to rid the country of its doping issues, as well as liaising with key stakeholders in the fight against illegal drug use, such as WADA and IFs.
The withdrawal of Sports Ministry officials from RUSADA comes on the same day that the IOC are hosting an Olympic Summit here in Lausanne.
It will see discussions held on the future of the global anti-doping movement, which the IOC have stated "will focus on the protection of clean athletes and, more specifically, on a review of the WADA anti-doping system".
A period of fractious bickering has occurred between sporting and anti-doping authorities in the lead up to the Summit, despite repeated assertions that a more "independent" system is needed.
The main source of contention is likely to be over the interpretation of "independent" by the parties present.