Accusations of mass, state-sponsored doping doesn’t seem to bother anyone in Russia anymore.
This time around, there wasn’t even outrage.
were no emotional Instagram posts from Olympic sports stars,
no apologetic columns from ministers in the Western media, no angry
put-downs on Russian propaganda channels.
The only response to the latest report into Russian sporting foul play was denial.
“There is no state support for doping,” the Ministry of Sports wrote in a dry official statement.
is no “organized system of falsifying test results,” said Vitaly
Smirnov, head of the Independent Public Anti-Doping Commission.
Others focused on the author of the report, Richard McLaren, a lawyer acting on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA.)
hasn’t said anything new … He hasn’t named any names, but he has
already assigned labels to Russia and its national team,” Mikhail
Degtyaryov, head of the State Duma committee on sports, tourism and
youth affairs wrote on Twitter.
Yet for anyone who cared to read the report, McLaren’s findings were damning enough.
that between 2011 and 2015, more than 1,000 Russian athletes across
30 sports were connected with the use of performance-enhancing drugs
or the concealment of positive urine samples. Twelve Russian athletes
who won medals at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi had swapped
their drug test samples. Government officials orchestrated it, while
operatives of the Federal Security Service (FSB) helped cover it up.
And, this time, physical evidence was collected to substantiate these
“The extent of the cover-up and the doping scheme
is shocking, and they are still denying actual forensic evidence,” says
Hajo Seppelt, the German journalist first to tell the world about
widespread Russian doping in his 2014 documentary.
“If [the evidence] is not enough for them, they should not be surprised if the situation gets even more serious,” he says.
report, which was presented in London on Dec. 9, was the second and
final part of the WADA investigation. It confirmed the allegations made
in his initial July 2016 report: that doping was widespread, systematic,
and masterminded by Russian authorities. Not only was the incredible
story of steroid “cocktails” told by the former head of the Moscow
Anti-Doping Lab Grigory Rodchenkov true, it was merely one episode
of a four-year long conspiracy.
not just talking about the Sochi [2014 Winter] Games anymore — we are
talking about summer and winter sports, Olympic and Paralympic sports.
A minimum of four years,” Seppelt, who was present at the McLaren’s
press conference, told The Moscow Times.
Some in Russia
McClaren conducted his investigation between 2011 and 2015 and that the
situation has changed since the. “[McLaren] said the report was about
2011-2015, and all the facts in it are related to this period,” says
Svetlana Zhurova, former Olympic speed skating champion and now State
Duma deputy. “He said that he now trusts Russia … and what has
happened in these four years isn’t happening now.”
Even if that is the case, more trouble might be in store for Russia.
heels of the report, WADA promised to share evidence with international
sports federations to investigate implicated athletes. The
International Olympic Committee also announced it would re-analyse all
254 urine samples collected from Russian athletes at the Sochi 2014
Winter Games. Additionally, it extended the mandate of the Oswald
Commission to examine all samples collected from Russian athletes during
the Olympic Games London 2012, following the report.
If more cases of doping are confirmed, additional sanctions against Russian athletes are likely to follow.
Russian sport can do much to dig itself out of its own hole, believes Richard Ings, the former head of the
Australian Anti-Doping Agency. Simple measures are needed: testing
transparency, making athletes available for testing anytime and
anywhere, and not tampering with labs. But first, the denying must stop.
“I think that Russia is a modern, aggressive country
with technical and legal capabilities and enough sensitivity to put
in place effective and robust anti-doping policies,” Ings told The
Moscow Times. “But you can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.”
Instead of acknowledging the problem, Russia continues to play victim, says Seppelt.
things have to change: education, the overall culture of sports,”
he says. “The fact that Russia has done nothing to stop these practices
after we first exposed them in December 2014 is worrying.”