In May, a slew of allegations emerged accusing Russian athletes -- with involvement from government officials -- of doping during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. An independent investigation from the Worldwide Anti-Doping Agency, released today, has now confirmed these broad accusations. Image: Getty
The investigation was conducted by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, who noted that his findings met the "standard of beyond a reasonable doubt". The report confirmed previous whisperings that the Russian government was involved with the coordination and execution of doping during the Sochi Games, but it also included another tidbit: The doping operation had been going on "before and after" the Games, as well.
"The surprise result of the Sochi investigation was the revelation of the extent of State oversight and directed control of the Moscow laboratory in processing, and covering up urine samples of Russian athletes from virtually all sports before and after the Sochi Games," the report said.
The findings could well lead to further calls to ban Russia from competing in the 2016 Games, which are slated to begin on August 5 in Brazil. A copy of such a call, a letter sent to the International Olympic Committee, was leaked over the weekend.
The WADA announced the results of a previous doping investigation in November 2015, which found widespread, state-sponsored doping by Russia's track and field team. The track and field team was subsequently banned from competing in Rio in June. (Allegations of Russia's doping ways are nothing new, of course, and go back to 2010.)
The new report from McLaren, however, claims that Russia's state-sponsored doping covers "virtually all sports", which hangs a question mark over Russia's involvement in the Summer Games. When the track and field team was barred, the New York Times described the punishment as "without precedent in Olympics history". A larger ban would no doubt cause an even bigger ripple.
As the Times explained today, however, such a ban wouldn't be without complications:
[The WADA] has also been asked about its close ties to the International Olympic Committee, which has a powerful financial interest in the Games that could compromise the will to uncover doping violations with a capacity to tarnish the brand. WADA's president, Craig Reedie, who commissioned the report published Monday, is an executive board member of the I.O.C.
Among the accusations detailed in the report include allegations that doping-sample bottles from Sochi athletes had been compromised, and that medal-winning athletes had their samples replaced with different samples.
The WADA has now recommended banning all Russian athletes from participating in the Summer Games, though the organisation doesn't have the power to actually implement such a ban -- that authority belongs to the IOC. In a statement, the IOC said it would talk about "possible sanctions" on Tuesday, according to the Washington Post.
Ah, the Olympics. Better add another one to the list of reasons to cancel them!