Moscow laboratory operated within a “state-dictated failsafe system” to protect doped Russian athletes, claims WADA-commissioned investigation report

A damning report revealing the findings of an investigation into doping cover-ups in Russian sport claims that at least 139 positive samples from track and field athletes were withheld following state interference between 2012-2015.

The report, commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and led by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren, investigated allegations made by the former head of Russia’s national anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov.

The focus of the investigation was on the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics but also included claims about a number of summer Olympic sports.

WADA has since called for all Russian athletes to be prevented from competing at the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Russian track and field athletes are currently already banned from international competition following the suspension of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) as an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Member. That suspension has been in place since last November and came after a WADA Independent Commission report detailed findings including a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russian athletics.

The suspension was upheld following an IAAF Council meeting in June, though a rule amendment means that Russians may still be able to compete at the Rio Olympic Games and other international competitions as “neutral” athletes. Earlier this month long jumper Darya Klishina was cleared to compete internationally.

The report released on Monday (July 18) details ‘Disappearing Positive Methodology’ – a “state-dictated failsafe system” put in place to protect doped Russian athletes.

WADA chart

The methodology, which is said to have been conducted in the Moscow laboratory under the direction of the Ministry of Sport, required staff to flag up individual samples to liaisons, who would subsequently identify the athletes and pass on the information to the deputy minister of sport, Yuri Nagornykh.

Athletes chosen to test negative would have samples labelled as “save” and would be entered into WADA’s Anti-Doping Administration and Management System (ADAMS) as a negative sample.

The report also highlighted the extent of anti-doping subversion around the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow, and that “it was clear to the laboratory personnel that under no circumstances were samples from these [Russian] athletes to be reported as positive”.

The report claims that Russian anti-doping staff used a variety of methods including the ‘Disappearing Positive Methodology’, as well as the replacement of some “dirty” urine samples with previously gathered clean ones.

In a statement released in response to the report, the IAAF said: “McLaren provided the IAAF with his preliminary findings which were included in the IAAF Taskforce Report and Recommendation to Council on 17 June 2016.

“The IAAF will of course seek further information on the 139 cases mentioned in the McLaren report and cross reference it with its own data.

“To the extent that actions have not, or are not, being taken we will obtain the evidence and do any necessary follow up to allow us to take the strongest actions available to us. This includes all information that has been gathered around the 2013 World Championships as we have in storage in Lausanne the samples sent to the IAAF by the Moscow laboratory.”

Regarding the participation of Russian athletes across all sports at Rio 2016, a WADA statement read in part: “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.”

The full McLaren independent investigations report can be downloaded here.