Richard McLaren has denied claims by Russian Independent Anti-Doping Commission head Vitaly Smirnov that he has dropped allegations of a state-sponsored doping programme in the country.
Accusations were made in the McLaren Report, published in July 2016, that Russia were behind a state-sponsored doping programme and that they covered up positive tests before, during and after the 2012 and 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London and Sochi and at several other major international events.
A second McLaren Report, published last December, claimed that more than 1,000 Russian athletes were involved in a state-sponsored scheme.
According to Smirnov, an International Olympic Committee (IOC) honorary member, the allegations have been dropped by McLaren.
But in a statement released today, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said that McLaren "unequivocally stands by the results of his investigation" and is "surprised by recent news reports to the contrary".
"Professor McLaren last met with Vitaly Smirnov in October 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland," the statement added.
"Mr Smirnov explained that in Russia, the term 'state-sponsored' implicated [Russian President] Vladimir Putin and the Russian political leadership.
"Since Professor McLaren’s evidence stopped at the Minister of Sport and Deputy Minister, he accepted, even though he did not necessarily agree with the Russian interpretation, to modify his characterisation of the Russian doping scheme to an 'institutional systematic evasion of doping control procedures'.
"Professor McLaren explained the change upon the publication of his second report in December 2016 and emphasised that there was no change to the facts of the reports or conclusions."
Following a meeting of the Russian Independent Anti-Doping Commission, Smirnov was reported as saying by Russian international television network RT that McLaren had said that he is "dropping his charges on state intervention".
"It's very important," he added.
Putin's spokesperson Dmitry Peskov had welcomed the claim of Smirnov, a former Minister of Sport in the old Soviet Union.
"If that [information] corresponds to reality, then we can only welcome it," he said.
"From the very beginning, we denied even the hypothetical chance [of state involvement], and of course we can only express gratification, if that is true."
Smirnov warned last month that Russia would not publicly accept the findings of the McLaren Report, which was a key factor set by WADA in order for the country to end its isolation from the international sports community.
insidethegames had revealed that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) must fulfil at least 12 more criteria before they can be ruled to be compliant with international rules.
Top of the "Roadmap to Code Compliance", a document published by WADA, is that the Russian Government - through the Ministry of Sport - must "publicly accept the reported outcomes of the McLaren Investigation".
WADA claimed that the road-map has been developed and agreed with RUSADA, as well as the Ministry of Sport, the Russian Olympic Committee and the Independent Public Anti-Doping Commission.
Smirnov, though, claimed they would not do what WADA was demanding and do not accept accusations in the McLaren Report.
There had been hope that RUSADA would be declared compliant again at the next meeting of the WADA Foundation Board in Seoul on November 16.
Other key criteria among the dozen set by WADA include the Russian Government providing access for international authorities to store urine samples in the Moscow Laboratory currently sealed off due to a Federal investigation.
Another leading requirement was that RUSADA’s Supervisory Board must select a new director general via a transparent, external and objective application and recruitment process overseen by two international experts.
This was fulfilled last week, when Yury Ganus was appointed to the post.
In May, WADA ruled that RUSADA was still non-compliant but was allowed to resume testing under supervision of internationally appointed experts and UK Anti-Doping after it met several conditions.
Russia is currently suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC).
Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) President Vladimir Lukin has admitted that some of the criteria the body must fulfil to ensure the reinstatement of its IPC membership remains in the "solution phase".
Following an update by the IPC Taskforce on the RPC’s progress in meeting the criteria, the IPC Governing Board has met here today and yesterday to discuss the body’s suspension.
An announcement on whether the RPC will be reinstated is expected to be made tomorrow.
IPC President Sir Philip Craven warned in May that it would be "very unlikely" for Russia to compete at next year's Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang should the suspension not be lifted.
As well as being banned from athletics at last year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Russia were also barred from taking part in the Paralympics.
The IOC are also currently conducting two separate investigations into Russian doping.
The Oswald Commission, headed by Swiss IOC member Denis Oswald, is looking into "allegations" of sample manipulation and is also analysing all samples given by Russian athletes at London 2012.
The Schmid Commission, led by another Swiss in IOC Ethics Commission Samuel Schimd, is addressing the "institutional conspiracy across summer and winter sports athletes who participated with Russian officials within the Ministry of Sport and its infrastructure".
Both Commissions are expected to be completed next month and could, potentially, lead to the IOC banning Russia from Pyeongchang 2018.