The World Anti-Doping Agency just released the results of a months-long investigation into doping allegations leveled against Russian athletes. The investigators found that use of performance-enhancing drugs by Russian athletes—many of them Olympic athletes—is not only widespread, but also supported by the state. Hide your surprise.
The report, which is hundreds of pages long, details a vast conspiracy by coaches, athletes, trainers, doctors, and various institutions to dope athletes and avoid punishment. Here is how the report described Russia’s “deeply rooted culture of cheating”:
The investigation indicates that the acceptance of cheating at all levels is widespread and of long standing. Many of the more egregious offenders appear to be coaches who, themselves, were once athletes and who work in connection with medical personnel. This ‘win at all costs’ mentality was then passed to current athletes, whether willing to participate or not. An athlete’s decision not to participate is likely to leave him or her without access to top calibre coaches and thus the opportunity to excel. This acceptance and, at times, expectation of cheating and disregard for testinga nd other globally accepted anti-doping efforts, indicate a fundamentally flawed mindset that is deeply ingrained in all levels of Russian athletics. The mindset is“justified” on the theory that everyone else is cheating as well
As for the involvement of doctors and coaches:
This report confirms allegations that some Russian doctors and/or laboratory personnel acted as enablers for systematic cheating along with athletics coaches. This Report also identifies the intentional and malicious destruction of more than 1,400 samples by Moscow laboratory officials after receiving written notification from WADA to preserve target samples. The investigation has revealed many instances of inadequate testing and poor compliance around testing standards.
According to the report, the state’s involvement in doping consisted mostly of intimidation and bribes. For example, the laboratory mentioned above was under the purview of Russia’s own anti-doping agency, RUSADA, as well as the Ministry of Sport, which had a heavy-handed involvement in the lab’s operations. The report cites surveillance footage capturing Federal Security Service (FSB) agents interfering with the lab:
The apprehension of surveillance by the staff in the Moscow laboratory caused by FSB representatives regularly visiting the laboratory and weekly discussions occurring between the Moscow laboratory Director and the Russian Security service affect the impartiality, judgment and integrity of the laboratory.
The IC concludes that there was direct intimidation and interference by the Russian state with the Moscow laboratory operations.
The Moscow laboratory Director was paid indirectly by one of the whistleblowers to conceal a doping test taken while the athlete was knowingly competing dirty. The go-between who received the money is a known performance-enhancing substances trafficker.
The report recommends that WADA impose a lifetime ban on five athletes and five coaches, and that Russia be suspended from competition by track and field’s governing body. One of the authors of the report even recommended that Russia be banned from the the upcoming Summer Olympics. You can read the entire thing here.