Russia operated a state-sponsored doping programme for four years across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports, claims a new report.
It was “planned and operated” from late 2011 – including the build-up to London 2012 – and continued through the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics until August 2015.
An investigation commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) says Russia’s sports ministry “directed, controlled and oversaw” manipulation of urine samples provided by its athletes.
It says Russian athletes benefited from what the report called the “Disappearing Positive Methodology”, whereby positive doping samples would go missing.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach described the commission’s findings as a “shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games” and pledged to enforce the “toughest sanctions available” against those implicated.
The IOC will decide on Tuesday about any “provisional measures and sanctions” for the Rio Olympics, which start on 5 August.
A mind-blowing level of corruption within both Russian sport and government that goes right to the field of play
US Anti-Doping Agency
The commission, led by Canadian law professor and sports lawyer Dr Richard McLaren, looked into allegations made by the former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory.
Grigory Rodchenkov claimed he doped dozens of athletes before the 2014 Winter Olympics, which were held in Sochi, Russia.
Rodchenkov – described by the Kremlin as a “scandalous” former official – also alleged he had been helped by the Russian secret service, the FSB.
He claimed they had worked out how to open and reseal supposedly tamper-proof bottles that were used for storing urine samples so the contents could be replaced with “clean” urine.
McLaren sent a random amount of stored samples from “protected Russian athletes” at Sochi 2014 to an anti-doping laboratory in London to see if they had scratch marks around the necks of the bottles that would indicate they had been manipulated.
McLaren said “100% of the bottles had been scratched” but added that would “not have been visible to the untrained eye”.
He said he had “unwavering confidence” in all of his findings.
The damning report does not make any recommendations, but will fuel calls for a complete ban on Russia from the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Wada has recommended the IOC “decline entries, for Rio 2016, of all athletes” submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Paralympic Committee. Russian government officials should also be banned from this summer’s Games, it said.
Wada president Sir Craig Reedie called the “scope and scale” of the findings a “real horror story”, adding he was “encouraged” the “correct decision” would be take by the IOC.
“I’m not sure that the system is broken,” Reedie told BBC Radio 5 live. “But if you are determined to cheat, you can get round the system. We can’t sit back on the situation; we have to work with Russian officials to change the culture in that country.”
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How did Russia react?
President Vladimir Putin made the Sochi Games a showcase event and spent more than $50bn (£37.7bn) staging them.
On Monday, Putin said officials named in the McLaren report would be suspended, pending a thorough investigation.
But a statement released by the Kremlin criticised the report as “accusations against Russian athletes” based on the the testimony of “a person with a scandalous reputation”.
It also warned of a “dangerous recurrence of interference of politics in sport”.
Putin has asked Wada to provide “more complete, objective, evidence-based information” to Russian investigators.