Russia's chances of avoiding a total ban from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang received a huge blow on Friday when the World Anti-Doping Agency revealed it has new evidence of its systemic cheating.

According to WADA, its investigations unit acquired an electronic file at the end of October which contains all the testing data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory between January 2012 and August 2015.

This enormous file is being analysed and should corroborate the evidence WADA already has from Professor Richard McLaren's 2016 investigation into the allegations made by the Moscow lab's former boss, Dr Grigory Rodchenkov.

That investigation provided solid evidence of a state-run conspiracy to circumvent global anti-doping rules between 2011 and 2015, which culminated at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

There, Russian athletes doped with impunity while secret service agents removed their anti-doping samples through a hole in a laboratory wall for Rodchenkov to open the bottles, swap their contents for clean urine and replace them for testing.

But even prior to that, Rodchenkov's team had been reporting any positive tests to the sports ministry, where an order to "save" or "quarantine" would be made, with "save" meaning record the test as negative in WADA's management system and cover up the evidence.

"This new intelligence serves to reinforce our requirement of Russian authorities that they too publicly accept the outcomes; so that we can all move forward in rebuilding public trust and confidence in Russian sport." - WADA president Craig Reedie

By cross-referencing the data from Rodchenkov, who fled Russia in 2015 and is now in witness protection in the United States, with the back-up data from the lab, Rodchenkov's claims become indisputable.

In a statement, WADA president Craig Reedie said: "WADA continues to stand firmly behind the outcomes of the agency's independent McLaren investigation.

"This new intelligence serves to reinforce our requirement of Russian authorities that they too publicly accept the outcomes; so that we can all move forward in rebuilding public trust and confidence in Russian sport."

The timing of this discovery could not be more significant for WADA, the International Olympic Committee or Russia, as all three plan their next moves in this remarkable chapter in international sport.

RUSADA, Russia's anti-doping agency, and the Moscow lab have been suspended by WADA since November 2015, when an investigation by its former president Richard Pound found evidence of systemic cheating in Russian athletics.

That also led to the suspension of the Russian athletics federation, which meant only one "neutral" Russian was able to compete in the track and field events at last summer's Rio Games.

McLaren's interim report was released just before those Games, widening the conspiracy to more than 1,000 athletes from over 30 sports and revealing the details of the Sochi scam.

Despite this, the IOC refused to issue a blanket ban but did stop Russian officials from going to the Games. The International Paralympic Committee, however, followed track and field's lead and banned the country's Paralympic committee.

Russia's status in global sport has changed little since then, despite McLaren publishing his final report last December.

In response, the IOC set up two commissions: one to prosecute individuals for doping and the other to establish the state's role.

The first of those commissions, led by IOC member Denis Oswald, has just started to hand out disqualifications and life bans. The second, led by former Swiss president Samuel Schmid, is set to hand its report to the IOC's executive board for a decision on Russia's involvement in Pyeongchang.

That could range from the belated blanket ban demanded by many national anti-doping agencies, to a large fine, and IOC president Thomas Bach is expected to make an announcement at that Lausanne board meeting, scheduled for December 5-7.

Russia has said it will boycott the Games if they are forced to send a reduced, neutral team, and president Vladimir Putin has suggested this is a western conspiracy to interfere in next year's Russian election. It has also completed its own investigation into the McLaren report, dismissed the state-sponsored conspiracy claim, blamed Rodchenkov and demanded his extradition.

In the meantime, the International Association of Athletics Federations, the IPC and WADA have set up task forces to fix Russia's problems and return the world's largest nation to the fold.

The most crucial of those is WADA's and a decision on whether to lift RUSADA's suspension will be made at a WADA foundation board meeting in Pyeongchang on November 15-16.

WADA has said Russia must apologise and accept the McLaren findings before its national anti-doping system can be declared fit for purpose again.

If this does not happen, the IOC will find it very hard to justify not issuing a collective punishment or it will risk making a mockery of the ideas of clean sport and fair play.