ISTANBUL (AP) — The World Anti-Doping Agency warned Russia not to interfere in drug-testing in the country and asked Wednesday that a year-old vacancy at the top of the national anti-doping body be filled.

WADA president Witold Banka met with Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin in Turkey on Wednesday for talks on the future of the still-suspended Russian anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA.

“The need for RUSADA to retain its independence is critical. There must be no attempt by the Russian state or sporting authorities to interfere with any of its operations,” Banka said in a statement.

"Associated with that, the appointment of RUSADA’s next director general must follow a rigorous process to ensure the right person is hired for this important position, and that they are able to function independently in the role.”

RUSADA remains suspended because of past doping cover-ups and manipulation of evidence. Russia competed at the Tokyo Olympics without its flag or anthem, and will do the same at next year's Winter Olympics in Beijing, again using the name Russian Olympic Committee.

RUSADA hasn't had a permanent director-general since Yuri Ganus was fired in August 2020 because of financial irregularities. Ganus frequently criticized Russian sports authorities while at RUSADA and said evidence against him appeared to have been falsified.

WADA said the vacancy was raised during the meeting with Matytsin and remained a condition for lifting RUSADA's suspension.

“Russia is interested in ensuring the stability of the global anti-doping system,” Matytsin said in a statement. “For us it is important that the anti-doping agency doesn't become an object for political manipulation, since after all athletes all round the world are under threat.”

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