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WADA calls for complete Russia ban from 2016 Rio Olympics

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 10 February 2017, 1:48 IST

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) called for all Russian competitors and officials to be banned from the Rio Olympics and other international sport after an investigation found rampant state-run doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Games and other events.

A probe by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren for WADA found the FSB secret service helped "the state-dictated failsafe system" carried out by the sports ministry and covering 30 sports.

International Olympic Committee members will hold emergency talks tomorrow to decide provisional sanctions over what IOC president Thomas Bach called "a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports and on the Olympic Games."

WADA's executive committee said the IOC and the International Paralympics Committee should "decline entries, for Rio 2016, of all athletes submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and the Russian Paralympic Committee."

It also called for Russian officials implicated in the scandal to be sacked and for "Russian government officials to be denied access to international competitions, including Rio 2016."

McLaren said the cover up started in 2010 after Russia's "abysmal" results at the Vancouver Winter Olympics and continued until 2015 after the Sochi Games. It included the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow and 2013 World University Games in Kazan.

President Vladimir Putin made the Sochi Games a showcase event and spent more than USD 50 billion staging the Games.

Russia, which strongly denies any state involvement in doping, is already banned from international athletics by world governing body IAAF because of doping exposed last year.

There will no be mounting pressure for that to be extended even though Bach and some international federations have called for a way for athletes proved to be clean to compete in Rio.

"The IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated," Bach said in a statement announcing the IOC conference on Tuesday.

McLaren's report said the sports ministry under Vitaly Mutko organised the subterfuge under which tainted urine samples were replaced and kept away from international observers.

"The Moscow laboratory operated for the protection of doped Russian athletes within a state-dictated failsafe system," McLaren said.

"The Sochi laboratory operated a unique sample swapping methodology to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Winter Olympic Games," he added.

"The Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athletes' analytical results or sample swapping," said the report.

It acted with "the active participation and assistance of the FSB federal security service, athletes training groups and the Moscow and Sochi laboratories.

With the Rio Games to start August 5, US Olympic Committee chief executive Scott Blackmun said the IOC, WADA and world governing bodies must "impose sanctions that are appropriate in relation to the magnitude of these offenses and give clean athletes some measure of comfort they will be competing on a level playing field in Rio."

WADA president Craig Reedie said Russia must sack government officials implicated in the doping scheme before its athletes should be considered to compete against other global athletes.

"At a minimum, Russian (Anti-Doping Agency) RUSADA's return to compliance cannot be considered until all persons from the Russian Ministry of Sport and other government departments and agencies that are implicated by the report, including RUSADA, are dismissed from their roles," Reedie said.

The Kremlin said officials named in the McLaren report would be suspended, but also denounced the "dangerous" interference of politics in sport. It did not say which officials would be affected.

US Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis T Tygart said the report "has concluded, beyond a reasonable doubt, a mind-blowing level of corruption (exists) within both Russian sport and government that goes right to the field of play."

While not calling for a Rio ban, he did add: "We must come to come together as an international community... To ensure this unprecedented level of criminality never again threatens the sports we cherish."

WADA mandated McLaren to investigate allegations made by former Moscow anti-doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov in May.

Rodchenkov is now in hiding in the United States and wanted by Russian authorities.

Rodchenkov said the programme was "working like a Swiss watch" at Sochi and helped at least 15 Russian medalists avoid doping detection.

McLaren called the Rodchenkov "a credible and truthful person" despite admitting to concoting doping cocktails for Russian athletes.

"I realise there are other aspects of his life that are not appropriate," McLaren said. "I didn't need to get into that."

McLaren also insisted that he was "supremely confident" in the findings of the inquiry event though "we've had a very intense 57 days."

McLaren said his report was handed over to WADA on Saturday and had not been leaked in advance.

He said a US-Canadian letter pushing for a total ban on Russian competitors at Rio was based on "rampant speculation" about the findings.

First published: 19 July 2016, 2:25 IST