Russia has still not given permission for a team of independent experts to access the Moscow laboratory at the centre of the country's state-sponsored doping scandal, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has confirmed.

A three-person WADA delegation has been in Moscow this week, visiting the lab and meeting senior figures from the Russian authorities, including sports minister Pavel Kolobkov.

WADA had hoped to confirm a date for a "full technical mission" to the lab - a condition of its contentious decision to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in September - but failed to gain unequivocal approval for the visit.

In a statement, WADA's senior director Dr Olivier Rabin, who led the delegation, said the meetings were "open and productive...and progress is being made but some points still need to be ironed out before we can proceed".

The Russians have been blocking international access to the lab since November 2015, when a WADA-funded commission first uncovered proof of Russia's cheating, as they say they are conducting their own investigation into the scandal.

"The sooner we can gain full access to the laboratory, the better

There has been little obvious progress on that front but sealing the lab has also stopped international sports federations from proceeding with anti-doping cases against hundreds of potential Russian cheats.

Breaking that deadlock is one of the main reasons WADA agreed to RUSADA's reinstatement but without unfettered access to the lab's secrets that deal looks very one-sided.

"The sooner we can gain full access to the laboratory, the better," said Rabin. "Clearly, there is a huge volume of data contained within it and we want to start analysing it as soon as possible.

"Then, once the data has been fully assessed and verified to be authentic, we would be in a position to assert anti-doping rule violations against those athletes who cheated and to exonerate other athletes."

Under the terms of the reinstatement deal, Russia has until the end of the year to let independent experts extract raw data from the lab's testing equipment. WADA already has the lab's back-up data, so it should be able to tell if the machines have been tampered with.

If the two sets of data suggest doping cases have been covered up, the Russians will have until the end of next June to provide any relevant samples still stored in the Moscow lab.

Public acknowledgement of its state-directed cheating and lab access were the two outstanding items on a "roadmap to compliance" WADA agreed with RUSADA in 2016.

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