Team Russia must be expelled, says U.S.
Antidoping chief wants harsh penalty
The leader of the U.S. antidoping effort says nothing short of removing the Russian flag from this summer’s Olympics would suffice if an upcoming report about Russian doping is as damning as expected.
The report, due to be made public on Monday, is expected to include details about the country’s sports ministry telling its drugtesting officials which positive tests to report and which to conceal.
If those details do show up in the report, Travis Tygart, the chief executive of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, told The Associated Press he would support the same sort of action for all Russian sports that track and field’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), took regarding the country’s track team: It barred the team but gave a small number of athletes who could prove they were clean a chance to compete under a neutral flag.
“If it’s proven true, and there’s been intentional subversion of the system by the Russian government ... the only outcome is they can’t participate in these Olympic Games under that country’s flag,” Tygart said.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commissioned an investigation, being headed by Richard McLaren, into Russian doping following a New York Times story in May that detailed a state-run system that helped athletes get away with cheating and win medals at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. The McLaren report is due Friday, with public release set for next Monday.
An earlier investigation, headed by former WADA chair Dick Pound of Canada, looked into Russian doping inside the track team; the McLaren investigation is expected to delve into all sports.
In June, based on information from Pound’s report and its own followup, the IAAF barred Russia’s track team from competing in the Olympics after deciding it had not moved aggressively enough on widespread reforms.
In announcing the decision, the IAAF issued a report that included preliminary findings from McLaren stating evidence showed a “mandatory state-directed manipulation of laboratory analytical results operating within” the Moscow antidoping lab from at least 2011 through the summer of 2013.
The preliminary findings also said Russia’s “Ministry of Sport advised the laboratory which of its adverse findings it could report to WADA, and which it had to cover up.”
If those preliminary findings show up in the full report, and turn out to be just the tip of the iceberg, it would represent “an unprecedented level of criminality,” Tygart said.
Tygart previewed the findings to leaders of USA Track and Field at a meeting during Olympic trials last weekend. There, Tygart said, “what we see now is what happened in East Germany” in the 1970s and 1980s, when doping in the Eastern Bloc went virtually unchecked.
He told USATF leaders: “You have to send a message to states that corrupt the Games. I don’t want to prejudge the report but indications are that that’s what’s going to be in there.”
USADA chair Edwin Moses, the gold-medal-winning and world-record-setting hurdler from the 1970s and 1980s, reiterated that point to the USATF.
“If an athlete is going to get sanctioned for two, four, eight years, then certainly the same should happen for any federation or agency or administrators who are involved,” he said.
Shortly after the Times report came out, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach wrote an op-ed piece in USA Today saying that, if allegations in the Times story were true, the IOC would “react with its record of proven zero-tolerance policy, not only with regard to individual athletes, but to all their entourage within its reach. Should there be evidence of an organized system contaminating other sports, the international federations and the IOC would have to make the difficult decision between collective responsibility and individual justice,” Bach wrote.
On July 21, the Court of Arbitration for Sport will rule on the eligibility of 68 Russian track athletes who claim they should be able to compete despite the IAAF ban. Still undecided is whether the IOC will allow cleared Russian athletes to compete as neutral, or under the Russian flag. If the McLaren report is as damning as expected, the IOC and international leaders in the 27 other Summer Olympic sports will have to come up with plans on similar issues on a limited time frame: Friday marks the three-week countdown to Rio.