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LONDON – More than 1 000 Russian competitors across more than 30 sports were involved in an institutional conspiracy to conceal positive drug tests as Moscow “hijacked international sport” over the course of five years, an independent WADA report said on Friday.
The second and final part of the report for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren provided exhaustive evidence of an elaborate doping scheme sponsored by Russia’s Sports Ministry.
It included switching and changing samples by opening “tamper-proof” bottles – using a method devised by the Russian secret service – and numerous other methods to bypass and cover up drugs tests.
“We are now able to confirm a cover-up that dates back until at least 2011 that evolved from uncontrolled chaos to an institutionalized and disciplined medal-winning conspiracy,” McLaren told a news conference.
The scale was unprecedented, he said.
“We have evidence revealing that more than 500 positive results were reported as negative, including well-known and elite-level athletes and medal winners, who had their positive results automatically falsified.
More than 1 000 athletes competing in Summer, Winter and Paralympic sport could be identified as being involved in or benefiting from tampering to conceal positive tests,” he said.
The International Olympic Committee, which had refused a blanket ban of Russian competitors at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, said it had shown evidence of “a fundamental attack on the integrity of the Olympic Games and on sport in general”.
It said it would to test all Russian competitors’ samples from the London 2012 Olympics in addition to the ongoing re-tests from the Sochi 2014 Olympics.
WADA president Craig Reedie called the report “alarming”, but Russia showed no sign of accepting its conclusions.
The Sports Ministry said it would study the WADA report and cooperate with anti-doping bodies, but that it “denies that any government programmes exist to support doping in sport”. (Reuters)