The World Anti-Doping Authority has declined to lift its suspension of Russia after a doping scandal Photo: AFP
Russia moved a step closer to being barred from the Winter Olympics in February when the World Anti-Doping Agency declined to lift the suspension of Moscow's national anti-doping body on Thursday.
In a blow to Russia, the World Anti-Doping Agency maintained their suspension of the Russian body, RUSADA, which was first imposed in 2015 when evidence emerged of widespread cheating.
WADA's decision comes before the International Olympic Committee's executive board meet next month to consider whether Russia can compete at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
The independent McLaren report detailed a state-sponsored doping conspiracy from 2011 to 2015, including the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, where the hosts topped the medals table.
"We do not have the right to decide who takes part in international competition," WADA president Craig Reedie told reporters following a Foundation Board meeting in Seoul.
"The major event-holder has that right. We regret that RUSADA is not yet compliant. Technically, they have improved hugely since compliance was removed.
"But having set a road map for compliance, there are two issues that have to be fulfilled and we can't walk away from the commitments we have from that road map."
Reacting to the WADA decision, the IOC said they "will take all the circumstances, including all the measures to ensure a level-playing field at the Olympic Winter Games 2018, into consideration when it decides on the participation of the Russian athletes in Pyeongchang."
The Kremlin called the decision to maintain Russia's suspension "unfair".
"This is unpleasant news," Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.
"We do not agree with this decision, we believe it to be unfair. We denounced, and continue to denounce, accusations that cases of doping had some kind of state support," Peskov said.
"We are preparing for the Olympic Games," he added.
Kuwait, Equatorial Guinea and Mauritius were also declared non-compliant at the WADA meeting.