World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Craig Reedie said changing circumstances made him confident Russia would become compliant with international anti-doping standards despite an apparent impasse.
Reedie also told Reuters that he hoped world football’s ruling body FIFA would clear up allegations of doping in Russian football before this year’s World Cup in Russia starting in June.
Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA has been suspended since 2015 after a WADA commissioned report revealed alleged widespread doping in the country.
A further report the following year by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren found that more than 1,000 Russian competitors were involved in a conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests over a period of five years and soccer was among more than 30 sports involved.
Russia has repeatedly denied state involvement.
Earlier on Wednesday, Reedie said Russia’s refusal to acknowledge the systemic doping alleged in the McLaren report and its failure to allow access to Moscow’s suspended anti-doping laboratory were blocking its return.
He said Russia and WADA has been discussing the two points for 15 months but he denied any suggestion of a stalemate.
“If you look at the period up to the Pyeongchang (Winter) Games, I would tend to agree with you,” Reedie said.
“I think things changed at that stage…..there was a worldwide demand for some form of sanctions on Russia and the fact there was a suspension, I think changes the situation.”
He also referred to the re-election of President Vladimir Putin in Russia on Sunday.
“I’m always going to be confident we can resolve the issue,” he said. “President Putin, in a speech some time ago, actually acknowledged there was a problem and stated it should be resolved and I can’t believe that his attitude has changed. So I await developments with interest.”
Putin said on Feb. 1 that there were “things to work on in terms of perfecting our anti-doping programme and policy”, adding that Russia would work with WADA.
Turning to FIFA, Reedie said the soccer body “have been in touch with us, we have given them the information we have, we understand FIFA are speaking or have spoken to Richard McLaren and will decide what they propose to do”.
“I’m sure FIFA will take its responsibilities seriously,” he added.
Asked if he would like FIFA complete its investigation into the McLaren report allegations before the World Cup, he said: “I hope they do.
“If that information is available to them, and my understanding is that it is, then I’m sure FIFA would want to get that out of the way and deal with before the kick off of the first match.”
FIFA could not immediately be reached for comment
It has previously said it is investigating the allegations but that “robust procedures” take time.