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'Data or no data, Russia needs to be punished' says head of US anti-doping Travis Tygart

Travis Tygart told ITV News that Russia must be thrown back out in the cold again. Credit: AP

Russia may finally be giving up its secrets, but America’s most powerful anti-doping voice is far from placated. "You can’t rob a bank, be caught robbing a bank and then just say, I won’t rob a bank again."

Despite some belated hospitality in Moscow this week and the prospect it will release incriminating doping data, albeit a couple of weeks late, Travis Tygart told ITV News that Russia must be thrown back out in the cold again.

"Will they hold Russia to account? There is strict liability for athletes, so there should be for Russia.

"This is World Anti-Doping Agency’s moment in history; there should be a consequence. If you cheated the world and then missed a deadline, what message does it send if there’s no sanction?"

Tygart estimates Russia has been hiding evidence of 9,000 'presumptive' positive drugs tests. Credit: AP

Russia was invited back into the fold last September on the condition it allowed WADA access to its laboratory and released data, detailing which of its athletes had doped.

All by the December 31, at the time WADA President Sir Craig Reedie said it was "inconceivable" the Russians wouldn’t comply - they didn’t.

While the three strong investigation team continues its, so far, unimpeded work in Moscow, WADA’s Compliance Review Committee meets on Monday to decide what to do next.

Tygart is in no doubt: "Russia should be declared non-compliant for missing the deadline. And that position should remain until the data they hand over is reviewed and authenticated."

That would mean Russia could not host or bid to host any major sporting events and potentially also means the country’s athletes cannot compete at major tournaments, even under a neutral flag; the most significant of those, of course being the Olympics.

But Tygart also believes the scrutiny should not end there, he said: "There are urine samples that need to be received and reviewed.

"Russia should also provide ongoing cooperation with all sports to ensure that justice is served. Reinstatement should only happen when all those conditions are met."

Travis Tygart accuses Thomas Bach of inaction. Credit: AP

He estimates Russia has been hiding evidence of 9,000 'presumptive' positive drugs tests, relating to more than 4,000 athletes.

"The world deserves to know and justice needs to be done," he said.

According to Tygart there is no question where the blame lies; the Presidents of both WADA (Reedie) and the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach.

"We need leaders who are not conflicted," Tygart said before demanding: "The IOC and WADA leadership is so isolated; Thomas Bach is out of touch. The Olympic movement needs inspiring leaders like never before. Leaders are supposed to be above daily politics."

He accuses Bach in particular of inaction "When the allegations first broke, the IOC President preached zero tolerance and the severity of consequences.

"Well, here we are, four years later and there have been no meaningful consequences; no zero tolerance. That’s not the leadership athletes deserve."

And what does he make of the establishment’s reaction to the growing unrest among elite athletes? He is scathing.

"You would think athletes speaking out would be embraced. Why attack the messengers?

"Fairness demands you engage. They (Bach and Reedie) have to embrace the masses but we’re seeing the opposite. What world are we living in when leaders are labelling athletes 'lynch mobs' and 'sore losers'?

"It happens when people are scared for some reason. They are comfortable in the status quo," Tygart added.

He’s not holding his breath but Tygart says he’s keeping everything crossed that Russia does open up its little box of ignominy. But that is just the start.

He accuses WADA of putting politics before principle.

If they do the same again next week and Russia escapes punishment, then Tygart and a growing number of athletes will be difficult to silence.