The World Anti-Doping Agency on Thursday refused to lift its suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, putting into doubt that country’s participation in next year’s Winter Olympics in South Korea.
At issue are WADA’s demands that Russian officials admit they ran a state-sponsored doping program, as detailed in a report issued last year by Canadian attorney Richard McLaren, and that the country turn over doping samples collected during the time of the cheating. McLaren’s investigation found Russia doped more than 1,000 Olympic athletes in 30 sports between 2011 and 2015, tainting the country’s results at the 2012 London Summer Olympics, the 2013 track and field world championships and the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The International Olympic Committee will decide on Russia’s participation in the PyeongChang Olympics early next month, taking into account WADA’s decision Thursday and Russia’s continued denials that it ran a state-sponsored doping program. The IOC did not issue a blanket ban of Russian athletes for last year’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, ruling that individual sports federations could decide whether specially vetted Russians could compete as “neutral” athletes. That option apparently is on the table again, though Russian sports leaders have said they would boycott the Games if their athletes aren’t allowed to compete under the Russian flag.
It’s unclear how the IOC will rule in this instance. According to the Press Association, IOC President Thomas Bach does not want the group to base its decision on WADA’s announcement Thursday, preferring instead to judge Russia based the results of two IOC investigations into the country’s doping program. Last week, WADA announced it had received from a whistle blower a database containing testing data from a Moscow laboratory covering the time period between January 2012 and August 2015. WADA passed along the database to the two IOC investigations, saying the new intelligence “reinforced” its evidence against the Russians.
The IOC investigations are expected to wrap up soon.
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