More than 1,000 Russian athletes involved in state-run doping, report finds

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A technician holds a test tube with a blood sample at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, Russia, May 24, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo - RTSVDQX

A technician holds a test tube with a blood sample at the Russian anti-doping laboratory in Moscow. Photo by REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/File Photo 

Olympic medalists and athletes from at least 30 different sports benefited from a state sponsored doping coverup in Russia, according to a new report from the World Anti-Doping Agency.

“[More than] 1,000 Russian athletes competing in summer, winter and Paralympic sport, can be identified as being involved in or benefiting from manipulations to conceal positive doping tests,” the agency said in a statement.

The report alleges between 2011 and 2015 the Russian Sports Ministry switched and changed drug test samples using methods the Russian secret service devised.

Urine swapping was used during the 2012 London Olympics, 2013 World Championships in Athletics, 2013 World Student Games, and 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic games. Salt and coffee were used to cover up samples, according to the report.

Richard McLaren, a Canadian sports lawyer tasked with investigating and compiling the report, said the World Anti-Doping Agency could confirm a coverup that dates back to 2011 and became increasingly sophisticated over time.  

“For years international sports competitions have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians. Coaches and athletes have been playing on an uneven field,” McLaren said to reporters in London. “Sports fans and spectators have been deceived. It is time that this stops.”

This is the second report the anti-doping agency has commissioned. The first, released in July, showed hundreds of positive drug tests had been concealed. That led to some Russian athletes being ban from this year’s Rio Olympics.

Russia denied the accusations in that report and asked for more specific information because the report’s authors did not explain how the Russians allegedly opened sample bottles.

The new report provides more details that could lead to the International Olympic Committee taking further action before the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

On Thursday, the Olympic Committee president Tom Bach said any athletes and officials proven to be part of the doping system should be banned for life.

The Russian sports ministry said Friday it will work with international organizations to improve anti-doping programs.

“Today a war has been declared in our country. I think that zero tolerance for this phenomenon in sport should be implemented everywhere,” Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said.

The report did not include any names of athletes alleged to be involved in the scheme.

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