Sochi doping probe gets independent overseer | News | DW | 20.05.2016
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Sochi doping probe gets independent overseer

World Anti Doping Agency has named Canadian expert Richard McLaren to lead an independent investigation into an alleged doping cover-up in Russia. WADA head urged Moscow not to harass its anti-doping officials.

Canadian law professor and sports lawyer Richard McLaren will work independently, but with support from the World Anti Doping Agency (WADA) team led by Interpol agent Mathieu Holz, the organization said.

Both Holz and McLaren would look into the allegations of massive cover-up at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, when Russian officials allegedly swapped athlete's urine samples to foil doping tests.

WADA President Craig Reedie appointed McLaren as an independent overseer after several anti-doping officials pointed out a possible conflict of interest. Specifically, the experts pointed out that WADA is financed by the International Olympics Committee (IOC), which was involved in the Sochi Olympics.

By appointing McLaren, the anti-doping body did "what's necessary to follow through on our commitment," while at the same time "seeing that impartiality and transparency prevail," director Reedie said in a statement.

FSB halts WADA tester

The Canadian sports lawyer worked for a WADA independent commission last year, when the organization published findings on doping and corruption in track and field. The report eventually led to Russia being suspended from international competitions.

Reedie also called on Russia to provide access to drug testers, even in the so-called "closed cities" that require special authorization to enter.

Two weeks ago, a German WADA associate tried to test a Paralympics athlete in Tryokhgorny, a town producing nuclear technology, when she was intercepted by three armed officers from Russia's FSB intelligence service.

Speaking to the British Times newspaper on Thursday, Reedie decried the incident as "totally unacceptable" and threatened harsh sanctions from WADA.

Moscow calling the whistleblower

On Friday, Russia's Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said he had a "clear" feeling that some people wanted to discredit Russian sport and Russia itself.

"Nobody is saying that athletes are absolutely clean. Yes, there is a problem, but it's not just Russian, but a world-wide problem," he told Russian Vesti FM.

Markin also stated that Moscow would need to interrogate Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of Russia's anti-doping agency, who blew the whistle on the alleged sample tampering in the Sochi lab. Rodchenkov currently lives in Los Angeles.

"Just suppose we invite him here to be interrogated. Would he come or wouldn't he?" Markin asked. "However, I have a hunch that he did it not to get to the truth […] but for one reason only: to defame our country, to show it in bad light."

Markin believes Rodchenkov's whistleblowing aimed to discredit Russia

Markin believes Rodchenkov's whistleblowing aimed to discredit Russia

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