Olympic scandal sparks more cases of cheating
geneva» On yet another doping-tainted day for Russian sports, 28 athletes now face IOC cases linked to cheating at the Sochi Winter Olympics and a major cross country skiing event was removed from the country.
The International Olympic Committee announced Friday that it has opened 28 disciplinary proceedings against Russian athletes whose urine samples were likely tampered with at the 2014 Games.
Six cases involve cross country skiers who are now provisionally suspended by the International Ski Federation (FIS), which did not identify them. Six Russian men won five medals, including one gold, in cross country skiing on home snow at Sochi.
The new wave of Olympic doping cases is set to produce a flow of verdicts and disqualifications next year that could fuel calls for some or all of the Russian team to be banned from the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
The cases are based on evidence provided this month by World AntiDoping Agency investigator Richard McLaren.
McLaren detailed vast state-backed cheating in Russian sports that included swapping athletes’ tainted samples for clean urine through the testing laboratory at Sochi.
The Canadian law professor offered evidence of a method for state intelligence officers to break open supposedly tamperproof glass sample bottles that had scratches behind the lid. Urine samples retained by the IOC since Sochi included some with unnatural levels of salt in healthy humans.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied there was a statebacked program, and Friday he blamed the director of the labs at Moscow and Sochi, whose allegations to American media in May led to McLaren’s appointment.
Putin accused Grigory Rodchenkov of forging doping evidence against Russian athletes at the behest of foreign forces the president didn’t name.
Putin said Rodchenkov was forcing Russian athletes to take illegal substances he had brought in from Canada, where the scientist had previously worked.
In further fallout Friday from McLaren’s report, the world ski body said Russian officials have handed back hosting rights for the end-of-season World Cup finals in cross country skiing.
The event was scheduled in March in Tyumen, which Thursday also lost the right to host a biathlon World Cup event in March.
“The findings in the McLaren report have seriously damaged the integrity of sport and we are determined to ensure the necessary measures are undertaken to punish the offences,” said FIS president Gian Franco Kasper, who is a member of the IOC’s executive board.
The IOC said the 28 new cases being examined by its disciplinary commission are not positive doping tests. However, “the manipulation of the samples themselves could lead to an anti-doping rule violation and sanctions.”
Samples from Russian athletes at Sochi are now being re-tested at the WADA-accredited lab in Lausanne, Switzerland, the IOC announced.