Russia's anti-doping agency welcomes lab data progress

In this photo taken on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, Employees work in Russia's national drug-testing laboratory in Moscow, Russia . World Anti-Doping Agency

In this photo taken on Tuesday, May 24, 2016, Employees work in Russia's national drug-testing laboratory in Moscow, Russia . World Anti-Doping Agency

MOSCOW (AP) — The head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency has welcomed an apparent breakthrough in a standoff over data sealed in a Moscow laboratory that could implicate numerous Russian athletes in past drug cases.

Russian authorities failed to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to hand over the data but the Russian Sports Ministry said Thursday a WADA team had begun work to copy data from the lab.

The World Anti-Doping Agency contentiously lifted a suspension on the Russian anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, last year but it could issue further sanctions if WADA isn't satisfied with the level of Russian cooperation.

RUSADA's chief executive Yuri Ganus tells The Associated Press "of course we're pleased" at WADA's access to the lab, adding that "I don't see any other path" if Russia is to fully rejoin world sports following its doping scandals.

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