More than 1,000 athletes participating in 30 sports benefitted from Russia’s state-sponsored doping programme, an independent investigation has revealed.
In a report funded by the by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Canadian law professor Richard McLaren found that Russia corrupted the results of the London 2012 Olympics on a massive scale, covering up athletes’ positive drugs tests in an “institutionalised and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy”.
After London 2012, the report found the system was refined during the 2013 Worlds and Winter Olympics, with Russian officials using substances such as coffee and salt to manipulate positive doping tests.
McLaren revealed that 12 Russian athletes who won medals during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi were found to have had scratches and marks on the inside of the caps of their urine sample bottles, indicating tampering, and that six Russian Paralympic medal winners were found to have had their urine samples tampered with.
“This corruption involved the ongoing use of prohibited substances, washout testing and false reporting,” McLaren wrote.
“The ministry of sport was working to discipline athletes in advance of the London Games into taking the cocktail of steroids… in order to beat… detection thresholds.”
Launching his report on Friday, McLaren said that while the full extent of Russia’s corrupt behaviour might never be known, it is incontrovertible that Moscow had hijacked international sporting competitions for many years.
Russia’s sports ministry said it would examine the findings of the report, but insisted a government-sanctioned doping programme had never existed.
Russian MP Dmitry Svishchev was quoted as saying: “This is what we expected. There’s nothing new, only empty allegations against all of us. If you are Russian, you’ll get accused of every single sin.”
Responding to the report in a statement, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said: “The IOC thanks Professor McLaren and his team for the completed Independent Person (IP) Report and acknowledges the evidence produced. The detailed findings show that there was a fundamental attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and on sport in general.”
The findings of the report prompted calls for FIFA to consider whether Russia is fit to host the 2018 World Cup.
McLaren’s wide-ranging report was published just days after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) backed a package of reforms designed to clean up the sport after recent doping and corruption charges.
Tabled by IAAF President Lord Coe, the proposals include plans to set up an integrity unit to improve how doping cases are dealt with, speeding up the disciplinary process and making punishments more universal. At the beginning of December, the IAAF extended Russia’s ban from international athletics, meaning the country’s competitors will now miss March’s European Indoors in Belgrade.