The IOC has warned that federations and athletes could face long bans from the Olympics amid the latest doping allegations. It has also said Russian athletes could even be ruled out of this summer's Rio Games.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach said in a statement posted on the organization's website on Wednesday that the IOC had called on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to launch an investigation into the Russia doping laboratory used at the Sochi Olympics.
This followed allegations made by the former head of the laboratory that tainted urine samples were swapped for clean ones during the Games. In a report published by the New York Times last week, Grigory Rodchenkov, who now lives in Los Angeles, said he had switched the samples at Sochi with the help of people he believed to be officers with the Russian security services.
The allegations against the Sochi laboratory are "very detailed and therefore very worrying," Bach said, before warning that the IOC was prepared to take swift against any individuals or organizations found to have been involved in doping.
"This action could range from life-long Olympic bans for any implicated person, to tough financial sanctions, to acceptance of suspension or exclusion of entire national federations like the already existing one for the Russian athletics federation by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF)," he said.
The Russian sports ministry has responded by pledging to fully cooperate with WADA's investigation.
A statement issued by the ministry said that while it supported the investigation, doping allegations should be made based on evidence against individual athletes, not the country in general.
"Clean athletes who have spent years training honestly and observing all the rules and regulations, including against doping, should not lose their right to participate in competitions," it said.
However, in his statement, Bach said sporting authorities may have to consider whether the "innocent until guilty" maxim should still be applied to what he described as "contaminated" federations.
Russian athletes to learn fate next month
The International Association of Athletics Federations provisionally suspended Russia's athletics federation last November, following the release of an independent report commissioned by WADA, which found evidence of state-sponsored doping. The IAAF is to decide at a meeting on June 17 whether to lift the suspension so that Russia's track and field athletes would be able to compete in the Rio Games.
Bach's statement came a day after the IOC announced that 31 athletes from 12 countries, who competed at the 2008 summer Games in Beijing had failed doping re-tests. The results of re-tests from the 2012 London Games are expected to be released shortly.
pfd/sb (AFP, dpa, Reuters, AP)