Anti-doping officials call for Olympics to ban entire Russian team in 2016 Rio Games
Mind-blowing level of corruption uncovered in both Russian sport and government to cheat and rig doping results
The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has asked Olympic leaders to consider banning Russia from the upcoming 2016 Summer Games.
The recommendation followed closely after Monday’s release of a 103-page Wada report that detailed further evidence of systemic doping among the country’s athletes, coaches and officials.
“Not only does the evidence implicate the Russian Ministry of Sport in running a doping system that’s sole aim was to subvert the doping control process, it also states that there was active participation and assistance of the Federal Security Service and the Center of Sports Preparation of National Teams of Russia,” said Sir Craig Reedie, president of Wada.
The investigation confirmed a scheme run out of the anti-doping lab in Moscow that ensnared 28 summer and winter sports, from track to snowboarding to table tennis. It lasted at least four years and involved at least 312 positive tests that went unreported at the behest of higher-ups in the country’s sports ministry.
“A mind-blowing level of corruption within both Russian sport and government,” said Travis Tygart, the CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency.
The International Olympic Committee immediately scheduled a Tuesday teleconference for its executive board to discuss the matter.
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said officials named as directly responsible in the doping scheme would be suspended. He asked for more information from Wada so Russia could conduct its own investigation.
It’s no sure thing the Russians will receive a blanket ban. It’s a decision filled with political ramifications that involve a key Olympic country.
It puts the IOC in the position of ruling against one of its biggest supporters, a nation that spent more than US$50 billion hosting the Winter Games in Sochi just two years ago. Not since the back-to-back boycotts by the United States in 1980, then the Soviet Union in 1984, have the Olympics been contested without one of its biggest players.
“The findings of the report show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games,” IOC President Thomas Bach said. “Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated.”
The Wada investigation, headed by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, presents evidence it says shows that Russian officials falsified at least 312 doping tests from 2011 through last year’s world swimming championships.
Following up on allegations first made by “60 Minutes” and the New York Times last spring, the report supported claims that officials at a Moscow anti-doping lab switched samples so that Russian athletes could avoid testing positive for banned substances.
The original allegations involved the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but the McLaren Report also alleged cheating at the 2013 track world championships in Moscow and the 2015 swimming world championships in Kazan.
Russia’s deputy minister of sports would direct lab workers on which positive samples to send through and which to hold back.
Scott Blackmun, chief executive of the US Olympic Committee, said: “The McClaren Report confirms what we have stated previously: the current anti-doping system is broken and urgently requires the attention of everyone interested in protecting clean athletes.”
Over the weekend, some US and Canadian Olympic officials had circulated an email calling for Russia to be excluded from Rio.
Pat Hickey, an influential IOC member from Ireland, initially characterised the email as premature, saying: “My concern is that there seems to have been an attempt to agree an outcome before any evidence has been presented.”
Russia’s track team has already been banned from international competition following an earlier World Anti-Doping Agency report that found cheating in that programme.
“The McLaren Report has concluded, beyond a reasonable doubt, a mind-blowing level of corruption within both Russian sport and government that goes right to the field of play,” said Travis T. Tygart, chief executive of the US Anti-Doping Agency.
McLaren said out of 577 positive sample screenings he had access to, 312 positive results were held back — or labeled “Save” by the lab workers. More than 250 of the 312 “Saves” came from track and field and weightlifting, but other sports involved included swimming, rowing, snowboarding — even table tennis.
McLaren suggested the numbers could have been higher, but he had only 57 days for his investigation.
Time is crucial because the Olympics begin August 5, and decisions about Russia’s participation in Rio must be made.
Reedie, who is also an IOC member, said Wada is working to establish guidelines that will help the IOC and international sports federations identify exceptions to a potential Russian ban — notably, athletes who trained in other countries that had robust, clean anti-doping systems. Those athletes, Wada said, should be allowed to compete in Rio under a neutral flag.
With additional reporting by Agence France Presse