WADA has vowed to "conduct a thorough assessment of the situation" following the changes to the RUSADA Supervisory Board ©Getty Images

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has expressed concern over a major reshuffle at the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) which saw three Supervisory Board members including chair Tamara Shashikhina depart, with their replacements appointed at a meeting this week.

New chair Natalya Sokolova told the Russian state news agency TASS of the developments at the national organisation, which included two-time Olympic ice hockey champion Alexander Yakushev joining the Supervisory Board.

Yakushev won gold at Sapporo 1972 and Innsbruck 1976 representing the Soviet Union, and is currently the chair of the Board of Trustees at Kontinental Hockey League side Spartak Moscow.

He became a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018.

Medical sciences doctor Evgeny Achkasov and lawyer Evgeny Rashchevsky also became Supervisory Board members.

Sokolova, who was already on the Supervisory Board, took over as chair following the departure of Shashikhina.

Cosmonaut Sergei Ryazansky, one of just two members to retain his place on the Supervisory Board after previous sweeping changes in December 2020, and lawyer Anatoly Kucherena also left their positions.

Russian State University for the Humanities Professor Vitaly Vinogradov, Sergey Ilyukov - an independent anti-doping expert recommended by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) - and vice-president of the Russian Academy of Sciences Vladimir Chekhonin remain on the Supervisory Board.

However, WADA has said it will investigate further given the sudden nature of the changes.

"WADA is concerned with the sudden resignations of three Supervisory Board members, including the Chair," it told insidethegames in a statement.

Hockey Hall of Famer Alexander Yakushev has joined the Russian Anti-Doping Agency Supervisory Board ©Getty Images
Hockey Hall of Famer Alexander Yakushev has joined the Russian Anti-Doping Agency Supervisory Board ©Getty Images

"We are in communication with the Founders of RUSADA and have requested further information on the three new members, including the process followed to appoint them, in order to conduct a thorough assessment of the situation."

In December 2020, the Russian Bar Association and the International Centre for Health Protection became founding members of the organisation, with the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) required to relinquish their roles.

This was due to changes to the updated 2021 World Anti-Doping Code, which prohibits representatives from sporting organisations serving as members of a national anti-doping agency.

WADA previously expressed concern over RUSADA's independence because of oversight from the ROC and RPC.

After being reinstated in 2018 following its suspension in 2015, RUSADA was again declared non-compliant by WADA in December 2019 after the country was found to have manipulated data at the Moscow Laboratory.

WADA initially imposed four-year set of sanctions on Russia, including its name, flag and anthem being banned from World Championship and Olympic events and the country being prohibited from bidding to host such competitions.

These sanctions were reduced to two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in December 2020.

Russian athletes competed at the Tokyo 2020 under the ROC banner at the Olympics and RPC at the Paralympics, and will do so again at the Beijing 2022 Winter Games.

Government officials are banned from the Olympics under the sanctions unless invited by the hosts' head of state.

Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia, is expected to attend Beijing 2022 after receiving an invitation from his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.