Over 1,000 Russian athletes benefited from doping: WADA

Source:AFP Published: 2016/12/9 23:53:40

Russian sports ministry denies WADA accusations of coverup

More than 1,000 Russian athletes in about 30 sports took part in an "institutional conspiracy" to use banned drugs at the Sochi and London Olympic Games and other global events, doping investigator Richard McLaren said Friday.

International sports had been "hijacked" by the Russians, according to the Canadian lawyer who has previously accused Russia of "state-­sponsored" cheating.

He said in his new report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that he had confirmed the switching of samples at the Sochi Winter Games in 2014 and that salt and coffee was used to manipulate samples when checked by international experts.

More than 1,000 athletes in the summer and winter Olympics and Paralympics "can be identified as being involved in or benefiting from manipulations to conceal positive testing," the report said.

Information on 695 summer and winter Olympic athletes had been sent to sports federations. He gave no names but said "well-known and elite-level athletes" had tests declared to WADA "falsified."

"A coverup that evolved over the years from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalized and disciplined medal-winning strategy and conspiracy," McLaren said.

McLaren's report said the doping started in about 2011 but the sports ministry under Vitaly Mutko, now a deputy prime minister, took control from 2012 fearing that the cheating would be detected.

"An institutional conspiracy existed across summer and winter sports athletes who participated with Russian officials within the ministry of sport and its infrastructure," said McLaren.

Russia on Friday denied it was running any state-­sponsored doping schemes.

"The Russian sports ministry with full responsibility states there are no government programmes to support doping in sport," the ministry said in a statement, adding that it "will continue the fight against doping with zero tolerance."

Mutko, who has denied any involvement, was not personally named. He was barred from going to the Rio Olympic Games by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in August but has since been promoted by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"International sports competitions have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians," he said. "Coaches and athletes have been competing on an uneven field."

McLaren said Russian officials could be trusted "but they need to reform themselves."

The system was "refined" in the buildup to the 2012 Olympics and then further for the 2013 Universiade, the Athletics World Championships in Moscow in 2013 and particularly for the 2014 Sochi Games.

Russia won 24 golds, 26 silvers and 32 bronze medals in London with no failed tests at the time.

He said there was evidence that the "washout" of samples before London was taking part on a weekly basis in at least athletics and weightlifting.

"The Russian team corrupted the London Games on an unprecedented scale."

McLaren's first report, released in July, led to more than 110 Russian athletes being banned from the Rio Games but also caused a major rift between the IOC and WADA.

He said this infighting has got to end to be able to tackle global doping.

The report is a huge new blow to Russia, which is already battling to get back into the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) because of an earlier inquiry.

The IAAF and WADA are keeping to their suspension of Russia, meaning the country may not be able to compete at the Athletics World Championships in August 2017.

Athletes from Russia and other East European countries have dominated the list of cheats caught in new tests on 1,243 samples taken at the 2008 and 2012 Games.
Newspaper headline: Over 1,000 athletes benefited from doping

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