Calls for all Russian competitors to be banned from competing at Rio 2016 are likely to grow louder after Professor Richard McLaren's damning independent two-month investigation supported allegations of widespread state-sponsored Russian doping at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. Presenting those findings at a press conference held in Toronto on Monday (18 July), his report concluded that the laboratory in Moscow operated within a "state-dictated failsafe system".
It is further claimed that the Sochi laboratory conducted a "unique sample swapping methodology to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Games" and that the country's Ministry of Sport "directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athlete's analytical results or sample swapping" with assistance from Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) and Centre of Sports Preparation (CSP).
Commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) to investigate claims made during a CBS 60 Minutes interview with whistleblowers Yuliya and Vitaly Stepanov and a New York Times article featuring several claims by former head of Moscow's anti-doping lab Grigory Rodchenkov, sports lawyer McLaren, who declined to make any recommendations, reports that:
- A "disappearing positive methodology" was used as a state-directed method in response to a disappointing performance at the 2010 Winter Games, in which Russia finished 11th in the medal table. They topped the pile four years later with 33 medals, including 13 golds.
- Russia's deputy minister of sport, Yuri Nagornykh, was passed positive tests in every sports discipline and he "decided who would benefit from a cover up and who would not be protected".
- "Inconceivable" that Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko was not aware of the doping scheme.
- 580 positive samples discovered across 30 different sports.
- At least one foreign footballer in the Russian League was subject to a save order, with that decision made by Mutko.
- All tested samples of bottle caps from urine bottles in Sochi showed evidence of tampering.
Russia's track and field team are already suspended from competing in Rio after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) upheld their ban last month, although certain clean athletes based away from their homeland, such as 800m runner Yuliya Stepanov, could compete as neutrals providing they have been subject to sufficient outside testing. Russia have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), who are expected to issue their final decision on Thursday (21 July) after agreeing to an "expedited procedure" with the Rio Games now only three weeks away.
Responding to McLaren's investigation, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said: "The findings of the report show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games. Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated."
Mutko previously rejected the initial allegations as "a continuation of the information attack on Russian sport".