Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren says his team established the pattern “beyond a reasonable doubt.” He told reporters in Toronto that Russia’s secret service, sports ministry and its anti-doping agency were all involved.
Richard McLaren told a press conference in Canada on Monday that his team had uncovered clear evidence of systematic Russian doping, after a “very intense 57 days.”
He went on to describe two separate systems designed not to register a positive doping test, one for “normal” operations out of the Russian national anti-doping laboratories in Moscow, and another able to hoodwink the international officials also present for doping tests during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
“The Moscow laboratory operated, for the protection of doped Russian athletes, within a state-dictated failsafe system,” McLaren said. “The Sochi laboratory operated a unique sample-swapping methodology to enable doped Rusian athletes to compete at the Winter Games.”
The US and Canadian anti-doping agencies had already issued an appeal to seek a full Russian ban from the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro next month, prior to the publication of McLaren’s report.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach called the Russian practices a “shocking and unprecedented attack” on sport, saying that the IOC would not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated.
Bach had been walking a tightrope in recent weeks, seeking not to pre-judge any investigations – or court appeals – and not to commit to whether key competitors Russia would be at the Olympics in Brazil. Now, he and his colleagues have 18 days to reach a verdict.
The IOC will hold a confrerence call on Tuesday to discuss the McLaren Report’s findings.
Report implicates FSB, CSP – but ‘no recommendations’
McLaren said that the Moscow methodology was the simpler of the two. Calling this the “disappearing positive methodology,” it involved marking positive tests collected in Moscow either with the words “Quarantine” or “Save.” Those positive tests marked “Save,” McLaren said, were then replaced with negative samples and reported as negative by Russia’s deputy minister of sport, Yuri Nagornhyk. Those marked “Quarantine” were processed with the proper international authorites as failed drugs tests.
He described this system as a “simple, effective, efficient method for deputy minister of sport Yuri Nagornhyk to report any positive as a negative result.” From the samples available to them, McLaren said, Russia’s ministry of sport (CSP) had issued 312 orders of “Save,” while saying “Quarantine” in 265 cases – including most cases of foreigners’ tests.
In Sochi, under international scrutiny for competitions like the Olympics, such a system could not have worked. McLaren said that the FSB – Russia’s secret service – had found a way to remove the caps from positive test bottles without leaving obvious traces, tampering the results in this way.
Although they could not know the precise method, McLaren said that his team found a way to break into the bottles themselves, and noted that they left small traces of tampering in a similar way to those bottles tampered in Sochi. McLaren said his team had established evidence of this tampering “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
McLaren stressed on Monday that “no recommendations” were tied to his report, saying his team had only been charged with investigating the allegations – which first came to light via former Russian anti-doping head Grigory Rodchnkov, who now resides in the US. His team was charged by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to “determine the true facts” of the case, but nothing more, the lawyer said.
Russia topped the Sochi medal table in 2014, with 13 golds and 33 medals in total. At the last Summer Games in London in 2012, Russia came fourth, with 22 golds and 79 medals.
McLaren also said that his findings pertained to “Russian athletes competing in a wide range of disciplines … not just track and field.”