WADA Calls For Russian Ban From Rio Olympics After Report Confirms ‘Unprecedented’ Doping Scheme

by LINDSAY GIBBS –

rio 2016

On Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) released the much-anticipated report on its investigation into Russia’s anti-doping efforts. The findings were damning, particularly for Russian athletes hoping to compete in the Summer Olympics in Rio in a mere 18 days.

According to the report, the Russian Ministry of Sport erased at least 312 positive doping tests between 2011 and 2015.

WADA is requesting that Russia be banned from all international competitions, including the Rio Games.

WADA commissioned Richard McLaren, a Canadian lawyer, to produce the report after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, acted as a whistle-blower and told the Times about the extensive nature of Russia’s cheating during the Sochi Games in 2014.

Rodchenkov told the Times that Russia’s secret service figured out how to open up sealed urine samples months before the Sochi Games began, and during the Games samples from athletes participating in the doping program were passed through a hole in the wall of the Sochi anti-doping lab so that they could be replaced with clean samples.

McLaren found evidence to confirm “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Russia’s secret service, ministry of sport, and anti-doping agency collaborated on an elaborate scheme to evade WADA’s anti-doping controls before, during, and after the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

“The surprise result of the Sochi investigation was the revelation of the extent of State oversight and directed control of the Moscow laboratory in processing, and covering up urine samples of Russian athletes from virtually all sports before and after the Sochi Games,” McLaren wrote in the report.

McLaren said that in the 57 days of his investigation, his team had “secured data from hard drives, revived deleted documents, reviewed thousands of pages, conducted cyber and forensic analysis of metadata.”

“I am unwaveringly confident in our report,” he said.

Russia’s track and field team has already been banned from Rio due to findings from a WADA report last fall detailing the systemic doping rampant in that particular team. Subsequent reports found that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) was complicit in this cover-up. Russian track and field athletes have been petitioning the International Olympic Committee for permission to compete in the Games independently.

But now that more is known about Russia’s overall doping plot, there is a call for all Russian athletes to be banned from competition in Rio.

As reported by Rebecca R. Ruiz of the New York Times, anti-doping officials from at least 10 nations and 20 athlete groups plan to ask that the entire Russian delegation be barred from the Rio Games.

“If McLaren produces clear, convincing, irrefutable evidence that there has been systemic state-sponsored doping in Russian sport, the appropriate sanction would be for the I.O.C. to ban the Russian Olympic Committee from taking a team to Rio,” said Paul Melia, Canada’s top anti-doping official, over the weekend.

On Monday, the IOC indicated that a ban was certainly a possibility.

“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 in a statement. “Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated.”

On Tuesday, the IOC Executive Board will have a telephone conference where the next steps will be discussed. Those “may include provisional measures and sanctions with regard to the Olympic Games Rio 2016.”

 

Reprinted with permission from Think Progress, a branch of The Center for American Progress