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'Institutional conspiracy' in Russian sport doping: report

Chuck Penfold Reuters
December 9, 2016

WADA's independent investigator Richard McLaren has said that more than 1,000 Russian athletes were involved in or benefited from widespread doping manipulation. This came in his second report on doping in Russia.

Symbolbild - Goldmedaillen Russland
Image: Getty Images/W. Little

Speaking at a press conference in London on Friday, the independent investigator commissioned by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Richard McLaren, said that he and his team had uncovered evidence that Russian authorities in recent years had been involved in a doping cover-up on "an unprecedented scale."

"We are now able to confirm a cover-up that dates back until at least 2011 and continued after the Sochi Olympic Games," he said. "It was a cover-up that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalized and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy."

The new findings confirmed and expanded on much of the evidence contained in the Canadian law professor's first report, which was issued in July.

McLaren said that the conspiracy, which involved the Russian Sports Ministry, the national anti-doping agency, and the FSB intelligence service, shielded elite athletes competing in a broad range of summer and winter sports from positive tests.

'Five hundred positive results falsified'

"We have evidence revealing that more than 500 positive results (for performance-enhancing drugs) were reported as negative, including well-known and elite-level athletes, who had their positive results automatically falsified."

WADA - Richard McLaren
Image: Reuters/P. Power

McLaren noted that Russia had won 24 gold, 26 silver, and 32 bronze medals at the Summer Olympic Games in London in 2012 and not a single Russian athlete tested positive.

"Yet the Russian team corrupted the London Games on an unprecedented scale, the extent of which will probably never be fully established," he said.

"The desire to win medals superseded their collective moral and ethical compass and Olympic values of fair play."

The second report also revealed evidence that doping samples given by 12 Russian medalists at the Sochi Winter Games had been tampered with. This included athletes who won four gold medals, however they were not identified by name.

Urine swapping

He also said that a method of physically swapping urine samples used at Sochi had become a regular practice at the Moscow anti-doping laboratory that dealt with the testing of samples from elite Russian athletes.

He said his conclusions were based on irrefutable forensic evidence, including DNA analysis, which proved that samples had been switched. Other tests that showed that bottles containing samples had been opened when they shouldn't have been.

The first report led WADA to recommend that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ban all Russian athletes from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. However, the IOC declined to issue a blanket ban, choosing instead to leave it up to the governing bodies of the individual sports to decide whether Russian athletes would be allowed to compete.