World Anti-Doping Agency accuses Russian government of systematic doping

The Russian Olympic Committee asked that the incident be reviewed at the IOC Ethics Committee.

The Russian Olympic Committee asked that the incident be reviewed at the IOC Ethics Committee.

Alexey Malgavko / RIA Novosti
The WADA independent committee report alleges that the system of hiding positive doping tests had been in operation since 2011.

Richard McLaren, the head of a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission, announced that Russian athletes engaged in doping on a mass scale at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and that officials replaced their doping tests with clean ones.

"All of the samples we tested contained signs that they’d been opened," remarked McLaren, who presented the results of WADA's report on Russia's doping machinations at the Sochi Olympics on July 18 in Toronto.

WADA began the investigation after an interview with former Russian official Grigory Rodchenkov appeared in The New York Times on May 13, 2016. The former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory had said that during the 2014 Winter Games a group of Russian athletes engaged in doping under the cover of Russia's special services.

Ultimately, WADA's report corresponds to what Rodchenkov said. Like Rodchenkov, McLaren also stressed that the operation was carried out by the Russian special services.

"The FSB took the doping tests out of Moscow in special refrigerators in a special laboratory that had been built before the Olympics,” McLaren said. “The FSB conducted secret operations."

In McLaren's words, the scheme had been in operation since 2011 and was also used at the World Championships in Athletics in Moscow in 2013 and the World Aquatics Championships in Kazan in 2015.

Information leak

The day before the revelation of the WADA independent committee report The New York Times and several other media sources published information about a letter addressed to International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach signed by U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) head Travis Tygart and the leaders of the anti-doping committees of Germany, Spain, France, Norway, Japan, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada and Switzerland, as well as 20 athletic associations.

The letter calls on the IOC to ban the entire Russian national team from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro if WADA's report shows proof of state-sponsored doping in Russia.

“We can’t be blind to the evidence before us, and if we are not preparing for all potential outcomes, then we are not fulfilling our promise to clean athletes," Tygart told the Reuters news agency.

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) commented on USADA's letter to the IOC and WADA calling the USADA's actions a violation of the Olympic Charter and speculated that details of the WADA report had become known before their disclosure. The ROC also asked that the incident be reviewed at the IOC Ethics Committee.

The International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG), the International Swimming Federation (FINA), United World Wrestling (UWW) and the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) have already expressed their concerns regarding the possible disqualification of Russian athletes from the Rio Games.

Will the Russian team be banned from the Olympics in Rio?

Formally McLaren's report does not have any bearing on the Olympic Games. McLaren himself has stated that he will not give the IOC any recommendations about allowing the Russian team to participate in the Olympics.

"My task is to investigate and establish facts," he said. "Therefore, I have no recommendations. This is not my task."

The ROC explained that only a majority of votes at the IOC Executive Committee could ban Russia from participation in the Olympics.

"This is only a theory because in practice no one in modern Olympics history or since the Olympic Charter came into existence has ever been subjected to this procedure," Alexandra Brilliantova, head of the ROC’s legal department, told the TASS news agency.

Vitaly Smirnov, a Russian member of the IOC, believes that the organization will not disqualify Russia.

"For the IOC it would be an irreparable loss because the unity of the Olympic movement is more important than anything,” Smirnov told Match-TV. “It is unacceptable to punish an entire country for a violation of a particular nature. This would be a horrible mistake and I am certain that the IOC will not do it…Thomas Bach has said that the current Russian Olympic team cannot be responsible for the representatives of winter sports, of other sports."

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