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Doping fight: WADA gathers 2,200 samples from Russian lab

(AP) -- The World Anti-Doping Agency says it has gathered more than 2,200 samples from a Russian laboratory that can be used to potentially corroborate doping positives uncovered by an investigation into a massive government-directed program designed to win Olympic medals.

Obtaining the samples, along with data still being analyzed by WADA scientists, was a key goal for the agency as it tries to proceed with hundreds of cases from earlier in the decade.

WADA announced Tuesday that it had retrieved 2,262 samples, split them into "A" and "B" collection bottles and shipped them to a lab outside of Russia for testing.

Once the samples and underlying data behind them have been analyzed, WADA is expected to turn over evidence to international sports federations and national anti-doping agencies, which can bring forward cases.

If those organizations don't act on cases, WADA has the right to bring them to the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport.

WADA's director of intelligence and investigations, Gunter Younger, said his five-person team "decided to take any and all samples that corresponded to data ... that was even remotely (suspicious), even where an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) was not suspected."

Unknown is what percentage of cases the 2,262 samples represent; WADA has not provided that figure. But other samples that are not being removed from the lab will be stored there for a minimum of 2 years in case new evidence appears.

Regardless, the gathering of the samples is a success for WADA, which was heavily criticized for its decision to reinstate Russia's anti-doping agency before receiving the data and samples, as had been a precondition of reinstatement. Instead, WADA said the data had to be handed over by Dec. 31, 2018, and the samples made available by June 30, 2019. Russia missed the first deadline by two weeks but did allow access to the data.

Younger's team is expected to present an update to the WADA board at its meeting May 16.

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