An investigation commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency says that Russia’s sports ministry “directed, controlled and oversaw” the manipulation of urine samples provided by its athletes before and during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory, made the initial allegations that he had doped dozens of athletes before the Games. That sparked the investigation by the independent commission led by Dr Richard McLaren.
The report, which can only be described as extremely destructive for Russian athletics, will fuel further calls for a complete ban on Russia at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro which starts on 5th August.
Even prior to this report there had been calls from several national anti-doping agencies – including those from the United States and Canada – had called for a blanket ban on Russian athletes attending the Rio Games.
It is likely that Russia will not react well to both the report and the heightened calls for a ban on it’s athletes. Russian Olympic chief Alexander Zhukov claimed it was “part of a well-planned and preconceived campaign” to try and keep Russian athletes out of the Olympics. With Russian fans being largely responsible for the fan trouble at Euro 2016 and their hosting of the 2018 World Cup on the horizon this report heaps further pressure on the entire national sports programme to reform and improve it’s global standing.
Unfortunately this matter is far from over. Rodchenkov’s claims extend to doping athletes before the 2012 Olympics in London, the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow and the 2015 World Swimming Championships in Kazan. All these calims will also be investigated and they paint a dreadful image of Russian athletics which it will struggle to step away from at time soon.