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Doping

Opinion: No place for this at the Olympics

The second part of the McLaren report shows the gigantic scale of Russia's doping scandal. DW's Joscha Weber says that the IOC must now, finally, take action. An Olympic ban should only be the beginning.

Russland Nationalmannschaft Hockey (picture-alliance/dpa/V. Fedorenko)

When the genders of the urine samples don't match, something has gone very wrong

The sheer extent of the scandal becomes evident when you try to take in this number. More than 1,000 Russian top athletes, or more than a generation of the country's sporting elite, were part of a state-sponsored doping program, at least according to the World Anti-Doping Agency's (WADA) investigation. And it could be even more. 

Between 2011 and 2015 Russia doped, or rather covered up its doping. And this cover-up was orchestrated by Russia's sports ministry, the RUSADA national anti-doping agency, its testing labs in Moscow, and by the domestic spy agency, the FSB. A doping plot with the willing assistance of a government - unthinkable. 

Weber Joscha Kommentarbild App

DW's Joscha Weber

But this grizzly idea is unfortunately reality. This is demonstrated by emails and more than 4,000 documents that the Canadian lead investigator Richard McLaren and his team have pored over. In the 151-page second part of the McLaren report, published by WADA on Friday, one thing becomes clear: the darkest days of Cold War-era doping were a joke when compared to Russia's modern state-run program. 

Male urine samples from the women's ice hockey team

Consider this example: On page 19 of the McLaren report investigators describe how - among other transgressions - the samples of Russia's women's ice hockey team were manipulated at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Some samples were swapped out, others were opened and salt was poured in to render them unusable, while some even contained male urine samples. And all this was taking place according to plan - the women's players were among many Russian sports stars on a special list of "protected athletes." Clean samples were taken from these people before the games and then swapped out for the contaminated ones taken during the competition. Anyone who's still talking about "isolated cases" when faced with a such an extensive network hiding doping has either lost the plot, or is lying through their teeth. 

And that brings us neatly to the Russian functionaries. The new chair of Russia's RUSADA anti-doping agency, Yelena Isinbayeva, says that proof is still lacking - for her, evidently, the 1,166 published data sets do not suffice. So what about Mikhail Degtyarev, the head of the sports committee in Russia's State Duma parliament? He too can't see sufficient evidence of state-sponsored doping in the report. "Some 1,000 athletes or other, where is the evidence and the witnesses?" Alright, then. Dope, cover up, then lie - Russia's busily making its very own version of the triathlon. 

The IOC can forget those well-meaning appeals

This is why the IOC should give up with its subsequent appeals and verbal ultimatums directed at Moscow. They will fall on deaf ears and have no real impact, once again. What's needed now are tangible sanctions and a comprehensive clean-up. Banning the entire Russian team from the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang - the measure the IOC shamefully avoided at the Rio Games - should only be the beginning. The implicated organizations and institutions can no longer be part of world sports, and especially not part of the anti-doping fight that they have so successfully bamboozled of late. And even now, we don't nearly know the whole truth. Richard McLaren makes it very clear that his findings only reveal "the tip of the iceberg." 

If the IOC really takes the anti-doping fight seriously, then President Thomas Bach and company need to work on bringing the rest of this scandal out into the open. 

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