The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) is leading global calls for Russia to be banned from the Rio Olympics and Paralympics after a devastating report uncovered the extent of Russia’s state-directed doping.
The Wada-funded report, prepared by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, has revealed the Russian Sports Ministry controlled a cynical scheme to cheat at numerous sporting events, including London 2012 and the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Wada’s executive committee met immediately after McLaren’s report was published and has called on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Paralympic Committee (IPC) “to consider, under their respective charters, to decline entries for Rio 2016 of all athletes” submitted by the Russian authorities.
Wada president Craig Reedie reacted to McLaren’s findings with something close to horror, such is the scale and scope of a doping conspiracy that helped Russian athletes from more than 30 sports dope with impunity for years.
“As the international agency responsible for leading the collaborative, global, clean sport movement — Wada is calling on the sports movement to impose the strongest possible measures to protect clean sport for Rio 2016 and beyond,” said Reedie, who is also an IOC vice-president.
IOC president Thomas Bach issued a statement to say he wants to study McLaren’s 103-page report carefully before making any decisions but he has already called for an urgent meeting of his executive board today.
“The findings of the report show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games,” Bach added.
Philip Craven, Bach’s counterpart at the IPC, said: “We are truly shocked, appalled and deeply saddened. The findings of the McLaren report mark a very dark day for sport.”
Even before the report was published, several anti-doping agencies and athletes’ groups had lined up to demand Russia be banned from the Rio Games, pointing out that the executive boards of the IOC and IPC have the power to do so in their rulebooks.
With the Russian Olympic Committee already appealing against an earlier decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to maintain the ban on Russia’s track and field team that has been in place since November, it is likely the IOC and IPC will wait until the Court of Arbitration for Sport has made its ruling later this week. But any hopes the Russian authorities have of winning that appeal have surely disappeared.
Wada’s executive committee has made six other recommendations apart from the request to withdraw the invitations to compete in Rio.
They include banning Russian government officials from all international sports events, maintaining the suspensions of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory and Russian anti-doping agency, and asking the international federations of the sports mentioned in McLaren’s report to consider following the IAAF lead by banning the respective Russian governing body.
It has also called on football’s world governing Fifa to investigate Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko’s involvement in the elaborate doping scam, as Mutko is also the president of the Russian FA, a member of Fifa’s council and the chairman of the organising committee for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
His deputy Yuri Nagornykh is described by McLaren as the doping programme’s main decision-maker but the report also implicates Mutko’s closest anti-doping advisor Natalia Zhelanova, says it was “inconceivable” Mutko was unaware of what was going on and says he personally intervened to cover up a foreign footballer’s positive test.
Wada’s final recommendation arguably outlines just how bad Russia’s cheating has been in that it calls for McLaren and his team of investigators to be given more time to complete their work: What he has found already is based on just 57 “intense” days.
McLaren, who also worked on last year’s Wada-funded commission that looked into doping in Russian athletics, was asked to build on that investigation after the New York Times printed a remarkable interview in May with the former director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov.
Now in hiding in the States, Rodchenkov said Russia’s poor display performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics and difficulties in circumventing the biological-passport anti-doping system had effectively persuaded the Russian government to double down on what has already widespread cheating.
Rodchenkov said, under direct control from the Russian Sports Ministry, he worked out a new cocktail of steroids to give Russian athletes and established a system to cover up positive samples at the Moscow laboratory.
This operation, which McLaren refers to in his report as the “disappearing positive methodology”, worked perfectly in the build-up to London 2012, the World Athletics Championships in Moscow in 2013, World Swimming Championships in Kazan in 2015 and other major events.
McLaren also received help from other anonymous witnesses and used cyber and forensic analysis to give what he called “unswerving confidence” that his findings were “beyond reasonable doubt”.
Russian president Vladimir Putin issued a statement via the official news agency TASS mixing acceptance, defiance and denial, claiming the report is based on “the testimony of one man with a scandalous reputation” and questioned whether McLaren’s findings can be “weighty and trustworthy”.
But he did say the officials directly named in the report would be provisionally suspended pending a Russian investigation into the report’s findings.
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