Russia ordered 2013 athletics world championships doping cover-up, says Wada investigator

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 18 June, 2016, 11:14am
UPDATED : Saturday, 18 June, 2016, 11:14am

An independent investigator appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said on Friday that the Russian government covered up positive drug tests at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow.

In a statement, Professor Richard McLaren said the Russian ministry of sport was involved in instructing a Moscow anti-doping laboratory to “not report positive sample results over the period before, during and after the IAAF Championships in 2013”, with Wada adding that government interference had started as early as 2011.

McLaren’s statement was issued just hours after the IAAF, world athletics’ governing body, voted unanimously to uphold the ban on the doping-tainted Russian federation, but left the door ajar for some track and field stars to compete at the Rio Olympics as neutrals.

Russia was first banned in November after a damning Wada independent commission report said there was state-sponsored doping and mass corruption in Russian athletics.

In May, Wada set up a new investigation under McLaren, a Canadian law professor and longstanding member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), into allegations of state-backed doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia.

Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Russian lab now living in Los Angeles, also gave an interview to the New York Times last month in which he said he switched tainted urine samples for clean ones at the doping lab used for the Sochi Games, with help from people he believed to be officers of the Russian security services.

In his statement on Friday, McLaren said IAAF taskforce chairman Rune Andersen had written to him asking for “mutual cooperation” and in particular share, as early as possible, “any evidence that I obtained that sheds light” on the credibility of Rodchenkov’s allegations.

“I wish to emphasise that the information I provided was a preliminary finding but one of which I am confident the evidence I have to date is cross-corroborated or otherwise verified,” McLaren said.

“It is my view that I have the evidence to confirm the broad outline contained in my correspondence to the IAAF taskforce legal counsel that the ministry of sport was involved in instructing the laboratory to not report positive sample results over the period before, during and after the IAAF championships in 2013.

“My investigation is ongoing. I will continue my work with the objective of releasing my findings in mid-July. There will be no further comment on my investigation.”

In a supporting statement, Wada said McLaren’s preliminary findings showed there had been “mandatory state-directed manipulation of laboratory analytical results operating within the Moscow-accredited laboratory from at least 2011 forward including the period of the IAAF world championships in 2013.”

Responding to the continuing IAAF ban upheld on Friday, Wada president Craig Reedie said: “Wada fully supports the IAAF council’s decision to uphold its task force’s recommendation to maintain Russian suspension.”

Wada added it also agreed with the IAAF recommendation that any Russian individual athlete, “who has made an extraordinary contribution to the fight against doping in sport” should be allowed to compete as a neutral.

The IAAF council decision to uphold the ban on the Russian Athletics Federation came as no surprise given the latest damning Wada report released on Wednesday.

That report said hundreds of attempts to carry out drug tests on Russian athletes this year had been thwarted, with drug testers facing intimidation and threats from armed Russian security forces while athletes continued to evade doping control officers.

The full McLaren report is due to be delivered to Reedie by July 15 and published in full within five days of receipt.