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Russia's long running doping saga

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Russia's long running doping saga

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The findings of Richard McLaren, the Canadian law professor and head of the independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to investigate allegations of systematic cheating in Russian sport, have revealed the existence of a “state sponsored doping” system at work during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The systematic strategy was adopted long before Sochi after a particularly bad sporting year, according to McLaren: “The system was set up after Russian authorities felt there was an abysmal medal count by the Russian Olympic team at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics and it was in place until at least August of 2015.”

Russia has hosted a number of high-profile sporting events since 2010 including the 2013 World Athletics Championships.

The country is due to host the football World Cup in 2018.

How did the sample manipulation work?

The following modus operandi is alleged.

1. Ahead of the games an athlete provides a clean urine sample.

2. The sample is then frozen and stored.

3. The athlete then takes performance enhancing drugs.

4. The athlete then provides an in-competition sample monitored by a doping control official.

5. The samples are discretely moved out of the lab through a “mouse hole” between rooms and taken away by an FSB agent working as a sewer engineer.

6. The tamper proof samples are manipulated and the original “clean” sample replaces the “contaminated” sample.

7. The now “clean” sample is returned to the lab for testing.

The report alleges 30 sports have been tainted by the system including athletics, weightlifting, wrestling, canoeing, cycling, football and skating.

McLaren insists his brief was not to point the finger, but to establish the truth: “My job, my mandate was to investigate and provide a report and to establish facts. It wasn’t to make recommendations and I have not made any recommendations. There are no recommendations in the report and no recommendations have been made. The information is in the report for others to take, absorb, and act on and not for me to make recommendations and I have made none.”

President Putin condemned the findings saying the world is seeing “a dangerous recurrence of politics interfering in sport,” adding that the report is a tool “to turn sport into an instrument of geopolitical pressure” and “form a negative image of countries and people”.

This story is due to run and run.

Citius – Altius – Fortius.

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