The anticipated World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) investigation of Sochi doping allegations was released today. The independent report by Richard H. McLaren has confirmed those allegations made a number of people, most notably by the former director of the Moscow and Sochi doping control laboratories, Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov.

He laid out the elaborate doping scheme that operated during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi where, with the help of Russian state security agents, those in charge of the country’s drug testing program operated a state-sponsored doping operation. It enabled athletes taking performance enhancing drugs (PED) to come up with a clean urine sample by swapping out the dirty sample with the clean sample taken after the drugs had passed through the system; they called it the “disappearing positive” sample.

This is a dangerous problem not only for athletes but also for the whistle blowers and doping control officers. On June 17, Brent Schrotenboer of USA TODAY Sports reported “At least three insiders who blew the whistle on it fled the country in fear. Two of its former anti-doping officials ended up dead in February, adding to the dread. And now the stakes have been raised to unprecedented proportions, all focused on one big question: should Russia be banned from the Olympics?”

With Russia’s entire track and field team already banned from competing in Rio due to lack of control over their drug testing program, the question of whether or not ALL Russian athletes should be banned has been waiting on the outcome of this report released today. Now that the allegations have been confirmed through a rigorous investigation, the vote should come this week, possibly by tomorrow.

WADA released an extended statement today in which they again call for Russia to be banned from both the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, saying “Given that the Russian Ministry of Sport orchestrated systematic cheating of Russian athletes to subvert the doping control process; and that, the evidence shows such subversion in 30 sports, including 20 Olympic summer sports and Paralympic sports, the presumption of innocence of athletes in these sports, and in all Russian sports, is seriously called into question.

“Accordingly, WADA recommends to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to consider, under their respective Charters, to decline entries, for Rio 2016, of all athletes submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and the Russian Paralympic Committee.

“Furthermore, any exceptional entry of a Russian athlete should be considered by the IOC and IPC for participation under a neutral flag and in accordance with very strict criteria.

“WADA also recommends that Russian Government officials be denied access to international competitions, including Rio 2016.”

If the entire Russian national contingent is banned, it will be an unprecedented move in the modern Olympic movement. But the report shows that the scandal started way before Sochi and continued long after. The McLaren report states that it started following “the very abysmal medal count by the Russian Olympic athletes participating in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.” At this point Sochi had already been named as the site of the 2014 Winter Games.

The method the Russians developed is Machiavellian in its scope and implementation – it includes creating caps for urine sample tubes that could be opened without being detected; creating a “mouse hole” connecting the official drug lab to the room where dirty samples would be passed, emptied and sent back to the lab with the replacement clean sample. This is the stuff of spy novels!

Beyond the immediate question of banning Russia from the Rio Summer Games, nothing has yet been said about what will happen with the medals won by Russian athletes at the Sochi Winter Games and other international sporting events. This story will continue to evolve.

Why is it that a country or an individual thinks winning is so important that cheating seems acceptable?

Before the decision “to ban or not to ban” Russia is made, it really is worth reading the full report. Here is the link:

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