Former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound has backed the organisation's controversial decision to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), saying it will help prosecute more Russian cheats.
WADA's executive committee voted to lift RUSADA's ban at a meeting in the Seychelles on Thursday, prompting a furious response from athletes groups and national anti-doping agencies.
Many would have expected the outspoken Pound, who led WADA from its creation in 1999 to 2007, to join the chorus of condemnation but the former International Olympic Committee vice-president believes history will judge the deal more approvingly.
Speaking to Press Association Sport, Pound said WADA has effectively done a deal to let Russia own up to a less serious charge than state-sponsored doping in return for finally giving up the evidence from its Moscow anti-doping lab which is needed to proceed with hundreds of anti-doping cases.
"The issue of access to the lab is the key and that had been dragging on for nearly four years while the Russians conducted this criminal investigation - well, that was their excuse, said Pound.
"So WADA has said 'that's got to stop, we need to put a stake in the ground' and that is what we have now with this 31 December deadline. I think we are in a much better position to follow through with these cases now.
"We have a timeline, backed up by an automatic sanction. Whether this was a case of muddling through or a calculated strategy by WADA, I don't know, but it's worked, and when the smoke clears I think people will realise this is a favourable deal."
Pound, who won a Commonwealth swimming title for Canada in 1962, acknowledged that WADA had not handled the communication of its negotiations with Russia "adroitly" but said he was surprised so many anti-doping experts had not realised how important it was to get all of the Moscow lab's secrets.
"Access to the lab's raw data was not explicitly mentioned in the (roadmap to RUSADA's reinstatement agreed with the Russians in 2016) and that is what we will need to get anti-doping prosecutions," he said.
"I'm not sure if the Russians have figured this out yet and my advice to (current WADA boss) Sir Craig Reedie was to keep your head down and get that commitment in writing. If we had just got what we had originally asked for we would be up the proverbial creek without a paddle later on.
"What I don't understand is why anybody would think that the one organisation that stood up to Russia, that conducted two investigations, that got the lab director sacked, RUSADA suspended and put up with all kinds of c**p from the IOC because of it, would suddenly roll over.
"Sometimes when you're in the diplomatic arena you have to approach from the side, not head on.
"Of course, I would have loved to have won the hearts and minds of Russian athletes and convinced them that doping is the wrong thing to do but if we can make them play fair because they think they will get caught, I don't care, because it still gets us to clean sport."