The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) has issued a damning report into the status of the Russian testing system as the nation prepares to learn its Olympic fate, alleging that athletes and government agencies continue to obstruct and deceive drug testers.
The report was issued on Wednesday evening as the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) prepares to meet on Friday to discuss the Russian Athletics Federation’s place at this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Russia remains banned from international athletics following the Wada Independent Commission report, which in November detailed evidence of state-sponsored doping and corruption in Russian sport.
In May, Wada management presented a status update report concerning Russian testing during their period of non-compliance. The updated report has been collated in partnership with UK Anti-Doping (UKAD), which in February was appointed to aid the Russian Anti-Doping Agency’s (Rusada) recovery to compliance under Wada regulations.
In its report, Wada said testers were intimidated by officials from Russia's FSB security service and packages containing samples were tampered with by Russian customs services. Athletes are said to have repeatedly provided false information about their whereabouts and evaded drug testers at competitions. In one case, an unnamed athlete in track and field attempted to give a fake urine sample using “a container inserted inside her body”. Wada said this was discovered, with the athlete attempting to bribe the doping control officer (DCO) only to test positive when her real urine was examined.
Wada also said it received reports that athletes were “freely visiting” a “laboratory … with centrifuge and other analytical equipment” during a Russian national wrestling championship. The Agency last year claimed secret labs could have been used in Russia to screen doped athletes who would fail independent tests.
The latest report covers the period from November 18 to May 29. It said DCOs were “intimidated” when trying to locate athletes who said they were in so-called closed cities hosting military facilities, and alleges “armed FSB agents threatened DCOs with expulsion from the country".
When samples were sent overseas for testing, Wada stated labs said the packages had been tampered with by Russian customs officers. Athletes also appear to be evading tests by withdrawing from competitions at short notice when drug testers are present. In one case, the report said an athlete ran away from testers at a competition, and another “exited the stadium” during her own race. At a competition in race walking, a discipline in which top Russians have repeatedly failed drug tests, 15 athletes “did not start, withdrew or were disqualified,” including Olympic medallists.
The IAAF Council will meet on Friday to decide whether to continue Russia’s suspension or allow athletes to compete at Rio 2016. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has scheduled a summit meeting for Tuesday to consider Russia’s eligibility. Wada said its latest report has been shared with the IAAF Anti-Doping Task Force.