‘State-supported’ doping: Investigators accuse Russia of sabotaging Olympics, call for bans


World Anti-Doping Agency commission leader Dick Pound. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press via AP)

In a devastatingly critical report, a World Anti-Doping Agency panel accused Russia on Monday of complicity in widespread doping and cover-ups by track and field athletes during the 2012 London Olympics and other major events, and said they should all be banned from competition until the country cleans up its act.

WADA commission leader Dick Pound says Russia seems to have been running a “state-supported” doping program, adding, “I don’t think there’s any other possible conclusion.”

The commission’s report said the London Games were sabotaged because track’s governing body and Russia’s anti-doping authority didn’t take doping seriously enough and allowed runners to compete who should not have.

In addition, the report claimed the country’s intelligence service, the FSB, infiltrated anti-doping work at the Sochi Olympics. One witness told the inquiry that “in Sochi, we had some guys pretending to be engineers in the lab but actually they were from the federal security service.”

The commission recommended that WADA immediately declare the Russian federation “non-compliant” with the global anti-doping code, and that the International Association of Athletics Federations suspend Russia from competition.

It also said the International Olympic Committee should not accept any entries from the Russian federation until the body has been declared compliant with the code and the suspension has been lifted. Such a decision could keep Russian athletes out of next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The commission also accused the Russian state of complicity. It said its months-long probe found no written evidence of government involvement, but it added: “It would be naive in the extreme to conclude that activities on the scale discovered could have occurred without the explicit or tacit approval of Russian governmental authorities.”

“It may be a residue of the old Soviet Union system,” Pound added.

Staff at Russia’s anti-doping lab in Moscow believed their offices were bugged by the FSB and an FSB agent, thought to be Evgeniy Blotkin or Blokhin, regularly visited.

This was part of a wider pattern of “direct intimidation and interference by the Russian state with the Moscow laboratory operations,” the report said.

The Russian sports ministry said late Monday it is “not surprised by most of the points” in the scathing report on doping in the country and that it is working to correct the problem.

The ministry issued a statement in English in response to the WADA commission report.

The ministry said “we are fully aware of the problems in the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) and we have undertaken measures to remedy the situation: there is a new president in ARAF, a new head coach, and they are currently rejuvenating the coaching staff.”

It added that “Russia has been and will continue to be fully committed to the fight against doping in sport.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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