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Outspoken head of Russian anti-doping agency fired

MOSCOW (AP) — The outspoken chief executive of the Russian anti-doping agency was fired Friday, a move that the World Anti-Doping Agency had said it was “extremely concerned” about. Yuri Ganus was fired after his agency’s supervisory board recommended that the Russian Olympic Committee and Russian Paralympic Committee consider removing him because of alleged financial irregularities.

Ganus' ousting came about two months before the agency goes to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland to challenge a WADA ruling to suspend it for four years and impose a slate of other sanctions on Russian sport and its identity at the Olympics and world championships.

Russian Olympic body president Stanislav Pozdnyakov said at a news conference the decision was made “unanimously.” Mikhail Bukhanov, a lawyer with the Russian anti-doping agency, was appointed acting head of the body.

Since his appointment in 2017, Ganus has been a frequent critic of Russian sports authorities and their record on anti-doping reforms. During his tenure, the agency known as RUSADA has assisted some high-profile investigations into Russian athletes and sports officials.

Ganus denounced his dismissal in comments to the Interfax news agency. “In my view, this is a wrong decision, so let them enjoy their mistakes,” Ganus said. “The wanted to make (this decision) and they made it. In terms of the overall goals and all, it’s a mistake.”

WADA said the firing of Ganus and resignations this week by other RUSADA officials “reinforce the concerns" it recently expressed. The Montreal-based organization said it was “critical” that anti-doping officials “remain safe from interference in their operational decisions and activities.”

WADA will face the Russian agency at CAS from Nov. 2-5. A verdict will likely follow at least several weeks later. An audit commissioned this year by the ROC and RPC said there were unusual spending patterns and conflicts of interest at RUSADA.

Ganus and the RUSADA management responded that the audit was conducted in secret, ignored important evidence and bears the “probable signs of deliberate fabrication of false evidence.” Ganus also said the ROC and RPC could have used the audit to gather confidential information about how the agency investigates doping cases.

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