More than 1,000 Russian athletes benefited from a state-sponsored doping program between 2011 and 2015, a new report claims.
Four gold medalists from the 2014 Winter Olympics and five from London 2012 are implicated in the scandal, according to the final part of the McLaren report, released today. Russia won 21 gold medals in London, and 13 in Sochi two years later.
The strongly worded 155-page document confirms and expands upon the first part of the report, released in July of this year, describing the alleged Russian practice of doping as an "institutional conspiracy" involving the country's secret service.
"The summer and winter sports athletes were not acting individually but within an
organised infrastructure," it states.
Professor Richard McLaren, the report's lead author appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), told a packed press conference in London on Friday morning that Russian doping took place on an "unprecedented scale".
"There was a cover up that evolved into an institutional and disciplined medal-wining strategy," he went on to say.
The report also implicates then minister for sport, Vitaly Mutko – now Russia's deputy prime minister. It states "various steps and actions" under the leadership of Mutko's leadership of the ministry were taken to ensure the program transitioned from "uncontrolled chaos” to something that was "institutionalised, controlled and disciplined".
It goes on to say that emails were discovered from the then-minister inquiring whether to save or quarantine positive urine samples.
The report details how positive urine samples disappeared during the Sochi Games. Drawing on evidence from Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, a former director of the anti-doping laboratory at Sochi in 2014, it explains how the Russian secret service found a way to open the samples undetected and replace their contents.
Russian authorities have rejected the findings of the report. Ahead of the report’s release, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) extended sanctions against Russia until further notice. The McLaren report's findings are also set to be explored by two IOC commissions.
Most Russian athletes were permitted to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but they were banned altogether from the Paralympics.
The International Paralympic Committee (IPC) called the report "unprecedented and astonishing". A spokesperson for the IPC told the BBC the findings "strike right at the heart of the integrity and ethics of sport".
Nicole Sapstead, chief executive of the UK Anti-Doping, said the "hugely significant" report was clear evidence for the need for more funding to investigate the practice of doping. "Everyone engaged in sport needs to ensure that the right processes, sanctions and safeguards are in place to protect everyone's right to clean, fair and honest sport," she said.
Responding to the report, Russian MP Dimitry Svishchev, head of the Curling Federation of Russia, denied the "baseless allegations". He told Russian news organization RIA Novosti "this is what we expected".
"If you are Russian, you get accused of every single sin," the state-run news agency quoted him as saying.
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