The prospect of Russia being banned from next year's Olympic Games in Tokyo has increased after a key World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) panel recommended the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) be declared non-compliant.
WADA confirmed its Compliance Review Committee (CRC) had sent a recommendation that RUSADA be suspended again to the Executive Committee for consideration at its meeting on December 9.
The Executive Committee will vote on whether to declare RUSADA non-compliant, a sanction which would trigger a sliding scale of punishments, at the top of which includes banning Russian athletes from competing at Tokyo 2020.
In a statement, WADA said the CRC revealed suggested "serious consequences in line with the International Standard for Code Compliance by Signatories".
The exact reasons for the recommendation have not been been public, but it appears the CRC was not satisfied with the responses it received from Russia following allegations the country manipulated data from the Moscow Laboratory.
WADA had demanded the Russian Sports Ministry and RUSADA explain "inconsistencies" it found in the data when it opened a compliance procedure against the body, first suspended in 2015 before being reinstated last year, in September.
Russia was ordered to address the differences between the Laboratory Information Management System database provided by a whistleblower in October 2017 and the version WADA extracted from the facility in January.
The data is being used to prosecute athletes involved in the state-sponsored doping scandal which tainted the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi and other major events.
Nearly 50 cases have been built against Russian athletes, WADA said in September.
The global watchdog has the power to ban Russia from next year's Olympic Games under new compliance standards.
But any move in that direction would have to be approved by the WADA Executive Committee, half of which comprises International Olympic Committee (IOC) and other officials from the sports movement, who have previously been against a blanket suspension from the Games.
IOC President Thomas Bach suggested in an interview with the Associated Press earlier this week the organisation would be against a blanket suspension on Russian athletes from Tokyo 2020.
RUSADA would almost certainly appeal any sanction from WADA to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which will have the final say.
Russia could also be prohibited from hosting major sporting events, including World Championships and continental tournaments, if RUSADA is declared non-compliant.
Events already awarded to the country could also be reallocated if it is "legally and practically possible to withdraw that right and re-assign" it to another nation.
RUSADA director general Yury Ganus has been preparing for the decision and has repeatedly contradicted claims from the Russian Government that the country had done nothing wrong.
Confirmation of the CRC recommendation came on the same day as a decision from World Athletics to suspend the process of reinstating the Russian Athletics Federation.
World Athletics is considering expelling the body in the wake of the latest charges against its officials over the obstruction of an investigation.