More than 1,000 Russian athletes competing in major sporting events dating back until at least 2011 were involved in an “institutionalised and disciplined” doping scheme, with the 2012 London Olympic Games corrupted on an “unprecedented scale,” according to the author of a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report which was revealed today (Friday).
The second part of a report by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren fleshed out details of an elaborate state-sponsored doping scheme operated by Russia which were first unveiled on July 18. Today’s report stated the cover-up was refined at London 2012, along with the Russian-staged 2013 World Athletics Championships and 2014 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, hosted by Moscow and Sochi, respectively. More than 30 sports, including football, were said to be involved in concealing positive doping samples.
“We are now able to confirm a cover up that dates back until at least 2011 and continued after the Sochi Olympic Games,” McLaren told a news conference in London today. “It was a cover up that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy.
“This was a cover up of an unprecedented scale and the second part of this report details the evidence that increases the number of athletes involved as well as the scope of the conspiracy and cover up. We have evidence revealing more than 500 positive results were reported as negative, including well-known and elite-level athletes, who had their positive results automatically falsified.”
McLaren pointed to Russia’s success at London 2012, where the country initially claimed 24 gold, 26 silver and 32 bronze medals before the re-testing process of doping samples commenced. He said: “Yet the Russian team corrupted the London Games on an unprecedented scale, the extent of which will probably never be fully established.
“A desire to win medals superseded their collective moral and ethical compass and Olympic values of fair play. For years international sports events have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians. Coaches and athletes have been competing on an uneven playing field. Sports fans and spectators have been deceived and it’s time this stops.”
The report said a urine sample-swapping technique used at Sochi 2014 became regular practice at Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory. Four Sochi gold medallists are said to have had samples with physiologically impossible salt readings, while 12 Russian Sochi medallists had evidence of their urine bottle samples having been tampered with.
Two female hockey players are also said to have had male DNA in their urine samples, evidence that McLaren claimed “provided incontrovertible confirmation that the original samples had been tampered with and swapped”.
The first part of the McLaren report issued in July detailed that Russia operated a state-sponsored doping system that included widespread cheating and manipulation of tests by athletes and officials at Sochi 2014 and was in place as far back as 2011.
McLaren had termed the state-sponsored program the “disappearing positive methodology” and stated that it resulted in at least 312 falsified results from 2011 through to at least last year's World Aquatic Championships, which took place in Kazan from July 24 to August 9.
The program involved late night switching of dirty samples with clean ones at Sochi 2014, preventing Russian athletes from testing positive. The allegations included the use of intelligence agents from the FSB – Russia’s Federal Security Service. McLaren’s report detailed that Russia's deputy minister of sports would instruct lab workers which positive samples to send through and which to hold back.
The report led to a partial ban on Russian athletes competing at the 2016 Olympic Games, although the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) elected to enforce a total ban on Russian athletes at its Games in Rio de Janeiro.