Olympic scan­dal sparks more cases of cheat­ing

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Gra­ham Dun­bar

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.

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