The World Anti-Doping Agency has said it is "extremely concerned" after the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) Supervisory Board recommended the sacking of director general Yuri Ganus.
The Supervisory Board today voted in favour of recommending Ganus be removed from the role after an audit revealed a "number of significant irregularities in the financial and economic activities" of the organisation.
The final decision on Ganus' position rests with the founders of RUSADA - the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC).
Ganus, appointed director general in 2017, told insidethegames his removal could have consequences for RUSADA in its case against WADA before it is heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in November.
WADA being satisfied RUSADA’s that independence is respected and there is no improper outside interference with its operations is among the conditions the Russian agency must meet if it is to be reinstated.
In a statement, WADA said it would "seek further clarification from the Russian authorities and consider any other steps that may be required" after discussing the matter with the Compliance Review Committee.
Today's vote was triggered by the audit commissioned by the ROC and the RPC, conducted after a user on the instant messaging platform Telegram accused Ganus of a "conflict of interest and corruption", but Supervisory Board chairman Alexander Ivlev said a "number of violations that were identified in the framework of corporate procedures" were also considered.
WADA said it had previously raised concerns over potential interference in RUSADA’s operations and sought to clarify "how and why this audit was carried out" in a letter to Ivlev last month.
The global watchdog claimed the response it received did not answer its questions and its concerns "were not allayed".
"Today’s recommendation has presented further very important questions as to the validity of the legal process that has been followed and the motives behind the recommendation," WADA said.
"Accordingly, WADA has written again to Mr. Ivlev seeking a detailed explanation and requesting a copy of the official recommendation."
Ivlev said Ganus and deputy director general Margarita Pakhnotskaya were given the opportunity to address the Supervisory Board.
"A number of arguments were accepted, a number of arguments still raise questions," Ivlev added.
"Their answers have yet to be considered more carefully."
The vote to consider removing Ganus from a key position at RUSADA comes prior to the organisation's November court date with WADA after it appealed the four-year package of sanctions imposed as punishment for the manipulation of data at the Moscow Laboratory.
"The decision cannot but be disappointing given the likely consequences of RUSADA's non-compliance even before the CAS decision in November," Ganus told insidethegames.
"But everything is in the hands of the founders, the Olympic and Paralympic Committees.
"They will determine the present and future of Russian sports in these conditions."
The audit sparked a public dispute between the ROC and the RUSADA, with Ganus claiming the findings of the report cannot be considered reliable.
The user on Telegram alleged that Ganus, who denies wrongdoing, appropriated at least 57 million rubles (£636,000/$801,000/€709,000) for 2018 and 53 million rubles (£591,000/$745,000/€660,000) for 2019.
It was also claimed that Ganus used RUSADA money to pay for taxis and English lessons, while officials were able to take holidays on the pretence that they were international business trips.
Among the other allegations made in the report was that Ganus had selected an auditing firm not rated among among the top 100 in Russia to look into the organisation's finances for 2018 and 2019.
"The Supervisory Board made a decision based on a report commissioned by the ROC, which can hardly be called reliable, trusted and fact-based," Ganus added.
"Knowing that we had filed complaints about this report, the members of the Supervisory Board not only did not pay attention to the contradictions in the report, but did not even wait for the results of the complaints.
"Maybe because everything was decided before the Supervisory Board meeting."
Ganus had earlier released a statement which said he would not take his own life and that any subsequent claims to the contrary should not be believed.
Nikita Kamayev, the former executive director of RUSADA, died following a heart attack in February 2016 - just a fortnight after RUSADA's founding chairman, Vyacheslav Sinev, also passed away.
Ganus oversaw WADA's controversial reinstatement of RUSADA after it was declared non-compliant in 2015.
RUSADA was again declared non-compliant by WADA last December after the country was found to have manipulated the Moscow Laboratory data.
Among the sanctions WADA has imposed on RUSADA is a four-year ban on the Russian flag flying at the Olympic Games or any World Championships.
Russia is also set to be stripped of any World Championships it has been awarded.
The sanctions will not come into force until the CAS has rendered its final decision.
Hearings in the case are set to be held between November 2 and 5.