World

Russian doping: Olympic chiefs to decide on sanctions after McLaren report


Russia should be banned from this summer’s Olympics and Paralympics after evidence was found of a four-year, state-sponsored doping programme, says the World Anti-Doping Agency.

A Wada-commissioned report found urine samples of Russian competitors were manipulated across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports from late 2011 to August 2015.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will decide on Tuesday whether to provisionally ban Russia from the Rio Olympics, which start on 5 August.

IOC president Thomas Bach will host a telephone conference call to decide on “provisional measures and sanctions”.

He 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”.

Dr 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.

McLaren said he had “only skimmed the surface” in his 57-day investigation, and Wada wants the Canadian to “complete his mandate” by identifying athletes who benefited from the programme.

The IOC should “decline entries, for Rio 2016, of all athletes” submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Paralympic Committee, says Wada.

Its president, Sir Craig Reedie, described the “scope and scale” of the findings as a “real horror story”.

He told BBC Radio 5 live: “There are lots of potential samples to examine and that work will continue. We will almost certainly extend McLaren’s mandate for him to do that.”

Russia’s track and field athletes are already barred from competing in Rio after the International Association of Athletics Federations voted in June to maintain a global competition ban on the All-Russia Athletic Federation (Araf).

Araf hopes to overturn the suspension and will find out by Thursday if its appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport has been successful.

The sports that benefited from Russia's state sponsored 'Disappearing Positive Methodology"
The sports that benefited from Russia’s state sponsored ‘Disappearing Positive Methodology”

Russia’s response

President Vladimir Putin said he would suspend officials named in the McLaren report, and the Tass news agency reported deputy sports minister Yuri Nagornykh was the first to go.

He knew of “every positive analytical finding” and decided which athletes to protect, according to McLaren’s report.

Putin said whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory whose allegations prompted the investigation, was “a person with a scandalous reputation”.

The Kremlin asked Wada to provide “more complete, objective, evidence-based information” to Russian investigators.

What the report said

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.

doping flow chart
Russia topped the medal table at Sochi with 33 medals

Analysis – BBC sports editor Dan Roan

“This is a watershed moment in sport’s long fight against drugs cheats and arguably the gravest crisis in the history of the IOC.

“President Thomas Bach – a friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin – is in a very difficult position. Sport relies on Russia to host many of its global events. It will stage the 2018 World Cup. But now its status as a sporting superpower – along with its participation in Rio – hangs by a thread.

“Bach previously made clear how reluctant he is to ban the entire Russian team from Rio. But this report was worse than many had expected, and the sense is that such is the pressure from the likes of Wada, he may feel he now has no choice but to take this unprecedented step, just weeks before the Rio Games.

“However, the IOC and Wada face serious questions too. How could all this have gone on under their noses in a Wada-accredited lab? Why did it take a whistleblower to unearth the corruption? And will this scandal split the Olympic movement beyond repair?”

Key reaction

United States Anti-Doping Agency chief Travis Tygart told BBC Sport: “Our position has been clear for months. In the event that the report showed the state involvement in corrupting the Olympic Games and running a doping programme they have no business being around the Olympics.”

Paula Radcliffe, Britain’s marathon world record holder, told BBC Radio 5 live: “I think that a level of institutionalised doping, of institutionalised cheating and fraud to sport, which has done such damage to every sport globally, has to be punished strongly.

“Unfortunately there will be some innocent athletes from Russia that will suffer from that ban, but because of the scale of it and because of the fact that we don’t know who is clean in Russia, because it’s so bad there and we don’t know who we can trust, I think it has to be that strong.

“The IOC has to stand up for the rights of the clean athletes who want to perform at an Olympic Games on a fair and level playing field.”

Britain’s 2004 Olympic gold medallist Darren Campbell told BBC Radio 5 live: “When you speak about potentially seeing their flag in the Olympic stadium it kind of makes a mockery of what the Olympics is all about.

“The IOC need to make a statement that says this isn’t all right; this can’t happen again and the only way to do that is banning Russia. With the timing of this news the Olympics has a chance to save itself.

“A statement that used to bug me was ‘You’re just a drug cheat like other athletes’ – but I don’t get angry now because I can understand why people think that.”

BBC Radio 5 live’s sports news correspondent Richard Conway said:“What we will hear, no doubt, on Tuesday is this question of individual punishment set against collective responsibility.

“Is it right that clean Russian athletes should be barred because of the actions of their state? It will be fascinating which side of that line the IOC falls.”