The International Biathlon Union (IBU) has claimed there is "absolutely no risk" of active Russian athletes having breached anti-doping rules during the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board member Denis Oswald revealed last week that his Commission is aiming to complete crucial athlete hearings by the end of next month as the wait continues for final verdicts from two investigations into alleged institutionalised doping in Russia.
The Swiss, whose Commission is looking at the cases of individual Russian athletes at Sochi 2014, specifically on the claims that samples submitted by home athletes during the Games were illegally replaced with fake ones, has claimed forensic analysis of "abnormal levels of salt in the samples and scratches on the bottles" is nearly finished.
The IBU has today said that it "highly appreciates" the fact that the IOC has established a scientific methodology that is able to differentiate between marks and scratches from normal use, and the intentional manipulation of samples.
But as far as biathlon is concerned, the IBU insists the methodology will only be applicable to two cases involving unnamed athletes who have both already retired.
"There is therefore absolutely no risk of current active biathletes starting with athletes who might possibly have breached the anti-doping rules during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi," a statement reads.
Oswald, chair of the Commission, has sought to explain the reasons behind the delay in the publication of his results, which will be used to help establish the extent of Russian participation at Pyeongchang 2018.
In the letter sent to IOC Athletes' Commission chairperson Angela Ruggiero, obtained by insidethegames, Oswald claimed they are "aiming to have all hearings completed by the end of November 2017, with a priority for active athletes with upcoming competitions".
It had originally been claimed that the Commission hoped to complete their work by the end of October.
The hearings will allow athletes implicated in the McLaren Report and identified by the IOC Commission to defend themselves in front of the group.
The IBU confirmed the case against Ekaterina Glazyrina, who in February was provisionally suspended with immediate effect due to findings in the McLaren Report, was heard by a panel last week.
"The panel's ruling is expected before the start of the upcoming season," the statement reads.
"Moreover, regardless of when the final ruling is passed, the athlete concerned has been suspended and will therefore not be starting."
The IBU also said it "firmly maintains its position that the protection of clean athletes and the fight against doping are of the highest priority".
"The IBU must have zero tolerance for rule violations," the statement reads.
"It is however absolutely crucial to treat all athletes equally until legal evidence proves differently.
"The IBU has full confidence in the work and procedures of the IOC Disciplinary Commission with regard to result management of the IOC cases from the McLaren Report."
In his letter sent to Ruggiero, Oswald said his Commission "has done its utmost to move things forward as quickly as possible".
He said the task has not been easy, however, in both "establishing a methodology in an area in which there are no established protocols and then moving through the necessary scientific analysis of each individual sample in a way which would withstand legal challenge".
The IBU describes the alleged violations as not being "regular doping cases", where adverse analytical findings have been established by an accredited laboratory, which would allow the IOC Disciplinary Commission to easily sanction the athletes concerned.
"Thus the IOC Disciplinary Commission is required to investigate other evidence of possible anti-doping rule violations such as tampering or manipulation, if not the use of prohibited substances cannot be established," the statement adds.
"The need for legal evidence to support the prosecution of individual cases has been of great importance to the manner in which the samples have been reviewed.
"The IOC Disciplinary Commission has had to establish a legally-defendable methodology and new analysis procedure beyond that used in the McLaren Report.
"This required the validation of the new methodology by external experts and the training of specialised staff before the first analyses were able to be conducted.
"In the fight against doping, the IBU supports any action that guarantees clean sport, and justice for those who commit rule violations.
"However, while cheaters must be suspended, any ruling must be based on facts, rather than on assumptions."
Other members of the Oswald Commission include IOC vice-president Juan Antonio-Samaranch and Frenchman Tony Estanguet, deputy chairperson of the Athletes' Commission.
Oswald's admission that the hearings will not be finished until the end of November could, however, mean that there may be further delays in the announcement of his Commission's findings.
It also suggested claims that his investigation will be finished by the start of the winter season are premature.
He said that hearings on a "number of cases" have been scheduled and their "particular focus" was on six Russian cross-country skiers.
They have been identified as Olympic champion Alexander Legkov, Evgeniy Belov, Alexey Petukhov, Evgenia Shapovalova, Maxim Vylegzhanin and Julia Ivanova, whose provisional suspensions run out at the end of this month.
Oswald also hinted cases involving athletes concerned will be drip-fed rather than announced collectively.
His Commission are seemingly using the same procedures as the Schmid Commission, attempting to prove that samples were manipulated in Sochi while also probing who is to blame within Russia for the doping problems, to test samples for conclusive evidence of tampering at the University of Lausanne.
This process has not yet been finished, meaning results will probably be delayed due to the reliance on similar testing.
The cases will then be passed on to the relevant International Federations, who will decide whether or not to suspend the athletes involved.
There is mounting criticism of the amount of time the two IOC investigations are taking to produce results.
IBU vice-president for sport Max Cobb told insidethegames that the delay in the publication of the two reports was "completely unacceptable" and the work could have been finished six months ago.