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World Anti-doping Agency Urges Olympic Ban on Russian Athletes

  • Charles Maynes

Richard McLaren, who was appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to head an independent investigative team, presents his report in Toronto, Canada, July 18, 2016.

Richard McLaren, who was appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to head an independent investigative team, presents his report in Toronto, Canada, July 18, 2016.

The World Anti-Doping Agency is urging the International Olympic
Committee (IOC) to ban all Russian teams from the upcoming Olympics in
Rio de Janeiro.

WADA also wants the IOC to ban all Russian officials from access to
international competitions next month in Rio.

The doping agency's recommendations Monday accompany the release of a
damning independent report citing widespread state-sponsored doping by
Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

In Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the suspension
of Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko - pending investigation - while
pouring doubt on the integrity of the WADA report.

"The allegations against Russian athletes are built on the testimony
of one - a person with a scandalous reputation," the Russian leader
said in a statement issued on the Kremlin's official website.

Putin also noted that – much like the Soviet and American boycotts of
past Olympics – politics was again at the forefront of the current
Russian doping scandal.

"Yes, the forms of interference have changed but the result is the
same: to make sport an instrument of geopolitical pressure, forming a
negative impression of a country and people," he said.

Lead WADA investigator Richard McLaren told reporters Monday that
evidence shows a Moscow laboratory "operated, for the protection of
doped Russian athletes, within a state-dictated fail-safe system."

He said findings showed that efforts to mask the doping were
coordinated by Russia's state-run Center of Sports Preparation, and
said athletes were instructed in how to manipulate results of routine
urine testing designed to detect such abuses in international

In a statement Monday, the IOC said it would "carefully study the
complex and detailed allegations, in particular with regard to the
Russian Ministry of Sport.

"The IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available
against any individual or organization implicated," IOC President
Thomas Bach said.

Controversy erupted earlier this year when Moscow's former Anti-Doping
Laboratory Head Grigory Rodchenkov told The New York Times that dozens
of Russian athletes used performance-enhancing drugs in Sochi with
approval of national sports authorities.

Monday, investigator McLaren characterized Rodchenkov's accusations as
"widely credible."

Shortly after Rodchenkov's allegations were published in May, Putin
voiced support for the WADA probe.

But weeks later, he argued publicly against a complete ban on all
Russian athletes, saying such a move would also penalize many athletes
"who have nothing to do with violations."

Putin also noted Russia remained committed to anti-doping regulations
and fair competition.

Yet, even ahead of Monday's WADA commission report, Russian officials
poured suspicion on the WADA commission's independence – noting calls
from the U.S. and nine other countries' anti-doping agencies for
Russia's outright suspension if the McClaren report found Russia
guilty of wrongdoing.

"It gives the impression that parts of this were all part of a planned
and preconceived campaign aimed at disqualifying Russian athletes from
participating" in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, no matter
the evidence necessary to take such an unprecedented decision," wrote
Russian Olympic Committee chief Alexander Zhukov in a letter to IOC
chief Thomas Bach.

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