Russia operated a state-sponsored doping programme for four years across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports, claims a new report.
It was “planned and operated” from late 2011 – including the build-up to London 2012 – and continued through the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics until August 2015.
An investigation commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says Russia’s sports ministry “directed, controlled and oversaw” manipulation of urine samples provided by its athletes.
It says Russian athletes benefited from what the report called the “Disappearing Positive Methodology”, whereby positive doping samples would go missing.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach described the commission’s findings as a “shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games” and pledged to enforce the “toughest sanctions available” against those implicated.
The IOC will decide on Tuesday about any “provisional measures and sanctions” for the Rio Olympics, which start on August 5.
The commission, led by Canadian law professor and sports lawyer Dr Richard McLaren, looked into allegations made by the former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory.
Grigory Rodchenkov claimed he doped dozens of athletes before the 2014 Winter Olympics, which were held in Sochi, Russia.
Rodchenkov – described by the Kremlin as a “scandalous” former official – also alleged he had been helped by the Russian secret service, the FSB.
He claimed they had worked out how to open and reseal supposedly tamper-proof bottles that were used for storing urine samples so the contents could be replaced with “clean” urine.
McLaren sent a random amount of stored samples from “protected Russian athletes” at Sochi 2014 to an anti-doping laboratory in London to see if they had scratch marks around the necks of the bottles that would indicate they had been manipulated.
McLaren said “100% of the bottles had been scratched” but added that would “not have been visible to the untrained eye”.
He said he had “unwavering confidence” in all of his findings.
The damning report does not make any recommendations, but will fuel calls for a complete ban on Russia from the 2016 Summer Olympics, which start in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 5.
Wada has recommended the IOC “decline entries, for Rio 2016, of all athletes” submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee and the Russian Paralympic Committee. Russian government officials should also be banned from this summer’s Games, it said.
WADA President, Sir Craig Reedie, called the “scope and scale” of the findings a “real horror story”, adding that he was “encouraged” the “correct decision” would be taken by the IOC.
“I’m not sure that the system is broken,” Reedie told BBC Radio 5 live. “But if you are determined to cheat you can get round the system. We can’t sit back on the situation; we have to work with Russian officials to change the culture in that country.”
President Vladimir Putin made the Sochi Games a showcase event and spent more than $50bn (£37.7bn) staging the Games.
On Monday, Putin said officials named in the McLaren report would be suspended, pending a thorough investigation.
But a statement released by the Kremlin criticised the report as “accusations against Russian athletes” based on the testimony of “a person with a scandalous reputation”.
It also warned of a “dangerous recurrence of interference of politics in sport”.
Putin has asked WADA to provide “more complete, objective, evidence-based information” to Russian investigators.
The report said Russia’s ‘Disappearing Positive Methodology’ worked when analysis could be done at the Moscow laboratory.
But at an international event – such as London 2012, the Athletics World Championships of 2013, or the Swimming World Championships of 2015 – Russia had to adapt its methods.
The report found:
Dr Rodchenkov’s “cocktail” of steroids was given to athletes prior to London 2012. They were drugs he felt were least likely to be detected
Forty six Russian athletes with performance-enhancing drugs in their system were pre-tested from 17-22 July 2012
They were categorised as red – will test positive and should be replaced; amber – traces of drugs, but should be clear for London; green – clean
All records of positive tests were falsified into negative results
Athletes were also given micro-doses of blood-booster erythropoietin (EPO) up until two weeks before they left for London
Eleven of the 46 athletes won medals at London 2012 – some have since been banned and had their medals stripped
In June 2016, the IOC ordered retests of London 2012 samples – eight athletes tested positive
It was “inconceivable” that Russia’s Sports Minister, Vitaly Mutko, was not aware of the doping cover-up scheme, according to the report.
Mutko has been in position since 2008. He is a member of the executive committee of football’s world governing body, FIFA, and chairs the organising committee of the 2018 World Cup, to be held in Russia.
The report claimed Mutko personally intervened to cover up a doping case of “at least” one overseas football player in the Russian League and that 11 positive tests by Russia footballers disappeared.
However, it was Mutko’s deputy, Yuri Nagornykh, who was advised of “every positive analytical finding” from the Moscow laboratory from 2011 onwards – in “total violation” of WADA rules – and decided who to protect.