Date
28 July 2017
Fifteen Russian medal winners at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics reportedly were involved in widespread state-sponsored doping, according to the New York Times, citing a senior Russian whistleblower. Photo: Reuters
Fifteen Russian medal winners at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics reportedly were involved in widespread state-sponsored doping, according to the New York Times, citing a senior Russian whistleblower. Photo: Reuters

Russian doping bombshell rocks world sports

Russia conducted widespread doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics involving at least 15 medal winners in the latest in a string of drug crises roiling world sports.

And Kenya, famous for its middle and long-distance runners, faces an Olympic ban after being declared non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), Reuters reports.

The revelations were made in an explosive New York Times article that stunned WADA, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and athletes around the world.   

In recent months, WADA has appeared to be losing ground in the war on performance-enhancing drugs and the agency suffered another setback on Thursday when the New York Times story landed smack in the middle of its board meeting.

The report quoted Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia’s drug testing laboratory, recounting dozens of cover-ups and the disposal of tainted samples.

The surprise move on Kenya means some of the world’s top athletes are at risk of missing August’s Olympic Games in Rio.

Kenya has missed two WADA deadlines to show it is tackling cheating in sport.

WADA’s compliance committee ruled the country “non-compliant” 

Dick Pound, the Canadian lawyer who helped set up the WADA and served two terms as its president, was left surprised by the scope and sophistication of the cover-up, labelling it the worst he has ever seen.

“He [Rodchenkov] knows where all the bodies are buried,” Pound told Reuters.

Late last year, an independent commission headed by Pound uncovered evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russia that led to the country being banned from all athletics competition.

The scandal deepened on Sunday when whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov claimed in an interview with investigative program “60 Minutes” that he had taped recordings of Rodchenkov telling him at least four Russian gold medallists in Sochi were using steroids.

“It shows the system can be broken rather simply,” outgoing WADA director general David Howman told Reuters.

“It is something I have worried about for a long time.

With the Rio Olympics just three months away, the IOC must quickly deal with the escalating controversy if it is to restore confidence in the Summer Games in particular and sport in general.

Beckie Scott, chair of the athletes commission, made an emotional plea to the foundation board urging WADA to use its influence to keep Russian drug cheats out of the Rio Games.

“We acknowledge that WADA does not have jurisdiction over the Olympic Games,” said Scott, who won bronze at the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games but was upgraded to gold after the two Russians who finished ahead of her were found guilty of doping.

“WADA does have, however, influence and clean athletes of the world propose that you use that influence with respect to Rio and Game beyond.

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FL/RA

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