Russia faces Olympics ban amid big doping scandal

Russia faces being banned from the Rio 2016 Olympics after an investigation revealed “state-sponsored” doping on a wide scale in one of sport’s biggest ever scandals.

An independent commission that was set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has revealed that 1,417 samples were deliberately destroyed on the orders of the director of Russia’s drug-testing laboratory, who took cash to cover up positive tests, while there was intimidation of officials by undercover officers from the Russian secret service FSB.

The commission’s chairman, Richard Pound, said that Russia should be banned from next year’s Olympics.

Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko, also a Fifa executive committee member and head of the organising committee for the 2018 football World Cup, must have been aware of the level of cheating, Mr Pound said in Geneva.

He said: “For the 2016 Olympics, our recommendation is that the Russian federation be suspended... If they don’t [take on remedial work] the outcome may be no Russian track and field athletes in Rio. ”

Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko said that the report’s recommendations would be fulfilled.

Among the findings were:

  • More than 1,400 samples had been “intentionally and maliciously” destroyed by Russian laboratory personnel. A “second” Moscow laboratory existed, and the commission said there was corroborated evidence to conclude that positive samples were destroyed there and that pre-screened negative samples were sent on to the WADA-accredited facility;
  • Russian secret service agents were also involved and the commission had “serious doubts” about the Russian anti-doping agency’s independence from the Russia’s Ministry of Sport;
  • Athletes used false identities to evade testing and Russian doping control officers routinely accepted bribes from athletes.

Athletics Ireland said the report produced a “deeply disturbing picture of athletics and one which sets the sport back many years”.

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