The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has recommended that Russia be banned from this summer’s Olympics and Paralympic games, after evidence was found of a four-year, state-sponsored doping programme.
After years of suspicions of institutionalized doping in the country, a Wada-commissioned report found urine samples of Russian athletes were manipulated during the summer and winter Olympic sports from late 2011 to August 2015, BBC reports.
Mr Richard McLaren’s report found 580 positive tests were covered up across 30 different sports, including in the build-up to London 2012, and at the 2014 Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi.
According to the report, Russia’s sports ministry, supported by the security service FSB, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) and the Center of Sports Preparation of National Teams of Russia (CSP), made sure positive urine samples disappeared from late 2011 to 2015 to improve the country’s international sporting performance. McLaren called this the “Disappearing Positive Methodology”.
When this was not enough to hide doping – such as at an international event like Sochi 2014 – positive urine samples were switched with clean ones from a freezer through a “mouse hole”, with FSB agents on hand in the Sochi laboratory disguised as maintenance workers.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide on Tuesday whether to provisionally ban Russia from the Rio Olympics, as its president Thomas Bach has promised the “toughest sanctions available” and said the findings are a “shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games.”
Also, Wada chief, Sir Craig Reedie has urged the IOC to “decline entries, for Rio 2016, of all athletes submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Paralympic Committee.”
Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin said he would suspend officials named in the McLaren report, with the Tass news agency reporting that deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh has been the first casualty.
However, Putin described whistle-blower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory whose allegations prompted the investigation, as “a person with a scandalous reputation”.
The Kremlin asked Wada to provide “more complete, objective, evidence-based information” to Russian investigators.