Russian athletes are a bunch of doped up cheaters whose disregard for the rules was made possible by a corrupt cabal of coaches, doctors, and government officials, according to a bombshell report from the World Anti-Doping Agency.
The 325-page report comes after an 11 month investigation into doping and the associated cover-ups involving bribes, intimidation and espionage. As a result, the country that brought home 81 medals at the 2012 London Olympics — the third most in the world — might be banned from participating in next year’s games in Rio de Janeiro, a harsh punishment that fits a rotten regime.
“It’s worse than we thought,” Richard Pound, a co-author of the report, told the New York Times. “It’s residue of the old Soviet Union system.”
The report calls Russia’s doping problem “state sponsored,” and claims that government intelligence services spied on and intimated workers at a Moscow lab charged with testing athletes. Lab workers also believed the facility was bugged by Russia’s Federal Security Service, whose agents posed as engineers in the lab to monitor its activities. Plus, the lab destroyed more than a thousand samples during the WADA investigation to cover up its crimes. That's one bad lab.
"It would be naive in the extreme to conclude that activities on the scale discovered could have occurred without the explicit or tacit approval of Russian governmental authorities,” the report says.
But wait, there's more! Doping officials were both bribed and intimidated to cover up missed and failed tests by Russian athletes, who were often tipped off about upcoming "random" tests. This is all part of a disturbing trend over the last several years, according to the New York Times:
Russian athletes, in soaring numbers, have been caught doping in recent years. Russia had far more drug violations than any other country in 2013: 225, or 12 percent of all violations globally, according to data from the World Anti-Doping Agency. About a fifth of Russia’s infractions involved track and field athletes, the focus of Monday’s report.
“This level of corruption attacks sport at its core,” Richard H. McLaren, a Canadian lawyer and co-author of the report, said in an interview on Sunday. In contrast to corporate governance scandals like those currently roiling world soccer, he said, drug use by athletes has distorted the essence of professional games. “Bribes and payoffs don’t change actual sporting events,” Mr. McLaren said. “But doping takes away fair competition and an equal playing field.”
All told, this adds up to a widespread doping scandal that could derail Russia's hopes of competing at the 2016 Olympics. And even if the country does somehow wriggle its way to Rio, there's not much hope for reaching the top of medal count. Even with a widespread government-sponsored doping program Russia couldn't best the USA and China. Without it? Good luck keeping up with Kazakhstan.
Photos by Everett Collection