Russian doping conspiracy benefited over 1,000 competitors
LONDON – More than 1,000 Russian competitors across more than 30 sports were involved in an institutional conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests as Moscow 'hijacked international sport' over the course of five years, an independent WADA report said on Friday.The second and final part of the report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren provided exhaustive evidence of an elaborate doping scheme sponsored by Russia's Sports Ministry. It included switching and changing samples by opening "tamper-proof" bottles - using a method devised by the Russian secret service - and numerous other methods to bypass and cover up drugs tests.
"We are now able to confirm a cover-up that dates back until at least 2011 that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy," McLaren told a news conference."It was a cover-up of an unprecedented scale ... "We have evidence revealing that more than 500 positive results were reported as negative, including well-known and elite-level athletes and medal winners, who had their positive results automatically falsified. "Over 1,000 athletes competing in Summer, Winter and Paralympic sport can be identified as being involved in or benefiting from manipulations to conceal positive tests." WADA president Craig Reedie called the report "alarming" and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it had shown evidence of "a fundamental attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and on sport in general". But Russia showed no sign of accepting its conclusions. The Sports Ministry said it would study the WADA report and cooperate fully with anti-doping bodies, but "denies that any government programmes exists to support doping in sport". "UNFOUNDED ACCUSATIONS" Track and field chief Dmitry Shlyakhtin said he had not yet seen the report, but conceded that Russian athletics' problems "did not start yesterday". However, he said it had now fulfilled all the demands made of it. Yelena Isinbayeva, double Olympic pole vault champion and newly-elected head of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency supervisory board, said shortly before the report was released: "It is well known to us that many foreign athletes have a history of doping but compete at an international level with no problems. "If we want to clean up world sport, let’s start ... we don’t need to concentrate on just one country." Dmitry Svishchev, a member of parliament and president of Russia's Curling Federation, said: "We haven't heard anything new. Unfounded accusations against us all. If you are Russian, they accuse you of all sins." McLaren accepted that there could be widespread doping elsewhere, though not on the same level as in Russia, the sole focus of his investigation. McLaren pointed out that Russia had won 24 gold, 26 silver and 32 bronze medals at London 2012 and no Russian athlete had 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. "For years, international sports competitions have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians. Coaches and athletes have been playing on an uneven field." The IOC on Wednesday extended provisional sanctions against Russian sport over the scandal, and an international ban on its track and field athletes remains in force pending a reform of its anti-doping programme. On Friday, the IOC noted that it had already set up two commissions to prepare "appropriate sanctions and measures". One of these will go beyond the scope of McLaren's investigation and retest all the samples of Russian athletes who participated in the 2014 Winter Games, which Russia hosted in Sochi. Forensic investigations by McLaren's team detailed how a bank of clean urine samples was kept in a Moscow laboratory, where salt and coffee were added to try to fool officials testing "B samples" in supposedly tamper-proof bottles. –Reuters