Russia could soon be banned from competing in many major sporting events after submitting suspicious doping results to the World Anti Doping Association (WADA), an Olympic-linked foundation that fights against doping in sports.
Russia's Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was established in 2008 under the UNESCO International Convention against Doping in Sport, a UN treaty by which signatories agree to certain measures in order to prevent the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports. The Convention has been ratified by 187 states as of 2018.
RUSADA was deemed " non-compliant" in 2015 and was suspended by WADA. The Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory, which processed blood and urine samples from the country's athletes, was decertified in the move.
The Russian agency has been given three weeks to explain the discrepancies, or it faces a potential ban from sporting events that have signed up to WADA's anti-doping code, including the International Olympic Committee, the International Football Federation (FIFA), and dozens of other sporting authorities.
If Russia is unable to provide an adequate explanation to WADA, it could be banned from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the FIFA World Cup in Qatar in 2022, and other world-class sporting events.
The chairman of WADA's compliance panel, Jonathan Taylor, told BBC Sport that there was evidence that some of the data had been deleted. He added that if the investigating experts maintain their current view on RUSADA's non-compliance, they could propose sanctions against Russia.
"There is now a starting point for the sanctions that can go up and down, and they do include sanctions against RUSADA and options include no events hosted in Russia, and they do include no participation of Russian athletes in world championships and up to the Olympics," he told the BBC.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the international governing body for sports, on Monday also upheld a ban against Russia, and questioned Russia's anti-doping techniques.
"There is a recurring problem of athletes and local athletics federations working with banned coaches which undermines the creation of any strong anti-doping culture," said Rune Andersen, the independent chairman of the IAAF Taskforce, in a press release.
Russia was even banned from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, though some Russian athletes were allowed to compete as "Olympic Athletes from Russia."