The World Anti-Doping Agency will visit the Moscow Laboratory next week ©Getty Images

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has announced that a "full technical mission" will visit Russia next week to collect data from the Moscow Laboratory.

A five-strong team will travel to the capital on Monday (December 17) to access a facility that is central to the Russian doping crisis.

They will take possession of the pivotal Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) and the underlying raw data stored in the building.

José Antonio Pascual, a research scientist and academic from Barcelona, will lead the mission as independent expert.

He is said to have 30 years of anti-doping experience, including 25 years in laboratory management, and has headed the International Paralympic Committee's Anti-Doping Committee.

WADA said they expected three days would be needed to complete the data extraction.

Granting access to the laboratory was a key condition set when WADA's Executive Committee controversially lifted the suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency on September 20.

Russia had until December 31 to provide access or faced being declared non-compliant again.

"Following an initial meeting last month between WADA and the Russian public authorities, we have been preparing for the full technical mission to gain access to the Moscow Laboratory and the relevant data, in line with the strict conditions set for RUSADA's reinstatement," said WADA director general Olivier Niggli.

"Gaining full access to the laboratory and the data contained within it was the reason behind the 20 September decision and it is satisfying that we are another step closer to realising that. 

"The raw data is the missing piece of the puzzle that will complement the duplicate LIMS database that is already in WADA's possession and help conclude WADA's McLaren and Operation LIMS investigations."

Today's announcement comes after WADA held a two-day audit in Moscow this month.

Niggli said on Wednesday (December 12) that RUSADA had taken another step towards becoming a "fully-trusted partner" after the visit.

Olivier Niggli said data at the laboratory could be the
Olivier Niggli said data at the laboratory could be the "missing piece of the puzzle ©Getty Images

However, worries remain that some evidence and data at the laboratory may have been destroyed or tampered with by the Russian authorities.

RUSADA's three-year suspension began in November 2015 following allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

Revelations of more widespread cheating at events including the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics then emerged and the International Olympic Committee forced Russia to compete under a neutral flag at Pyeongchang 2018 in February.

This ban was swiftly lifted just days after the Games in South Korea, although Russia remain banned by the International Association of Athletics Federations and the International Paralympic Committee.

WADA's Executive Committee voted 9-2 in favour of lifting RUSADA's ban in the Seychelles but the move was greeted by a backlash from various athletes and anti-doping officials.

The reinstatement came despite Russia not meeting two key re-compliance criteria - admission of the McLaren Report which outlined much of the doping evidence against them - and access to the Moscow Laboratory.

In response WADA insisted that the move broke a period of deadlock and that RUSADA would simply be banned again if the laboratory was not opened.

They said the information collected there would allow the possibility of catching more cheats while potentially exonerating other athletes.

WADA had already obtained some information from the LIMS database which was shared with sporting bodies.

This was achieved via a whistleblower, however, rather than through any assistance from Russia.

No time-frame for bringing cases against athletes based on the data has been announced but it could be a lengthy wait.

"The data contained within the laboratory will need to be fully assessed and verified, which will take some time," WADA said today.

"It will then be used, in conjunction with the re-analysis of samples as required, to build cases against athletes who cheated."