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19 Jul, 2016 08:12

Russian Olympic Committee lambasts McLaren report, says full investigation needed

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) has slammed a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), which recommends banning all Russian athletes from competing in this summer’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

“We wholeheartedly disagree with the stance taken by Mr. McLaren, who believes that the possible banning of hundreds of clear Russian athletes from taking part in the Olympic Games is a valid ‘unpleasant consequence’ of the charges laid out in the report,” a statement from the ROC read, which was released on Tuesday morning. 

The report, which was headed by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, said that the Russian Sports Ministry was complicit in manipulating doping samples during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, some of which were even swapped.

“The accusations made in the report by Richard McLaren against Russian sport are so serious, that a full investigation is needed with the engagement of all parties,” the statement added. 

The McLaren report was commissioned in response to accusations made by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory to the New York Times. 

Rodchenkov alleged that he switched the athletes’ samples as he dumped “tainted” urine into a nearby toilet, washed out the bottles, dried and filled them with “clean” samples. 

McLaren called Rodchenkov a “credible and truthful person,” even though he is facing criminal proceedings in Russia on charges of abuse of authority by Russia's Investigative Committee. 

“The current accusations have been built on statements made by Grigory Rodchenkov. This is based on evidence from the person who is at the center of this criminal scheme. This is a blow not only to the careers and fates of a large number of clean sportsmen, but also to the integrity of the Olympic movement,” the statement mentioned. 

The statement pointed out that Russia is taking the fight against doping seriously and is constantly tightening its stance regarding this issue. 

On July 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russian law enforcers would have greater powers to investigate doping cases. 

"We’ve made a decision to support amendments to tighten legislation: to enhance responsibility and to adopt legislation allowing the use of detective and policing methods to let our law enforcers use investigative methods to expose the use and proliferation of doping substances," Putin said.

Integrity Adviser to the President of the International Center for Sport Security, Chris Eaton, believes that the timing of the McLaren Report is “cruel,” for the Russian national team since the Olympic Games in Rio are around the corner and time is running out.

The presumption of innocence regarding Russian athletes must remain in place while the decision to ban the whole team is “quite premature,” since the MacLaren Report itself is preliminary and not complete, he also said.

“Banning all Russian teams is premature and what they should be doing now is sitting down with Russia and determining how to continue this investigation in a multi-lateral way and do a pure and complete investigation” which is not based on “a single witness or a few single witnesses that are not known,” Eaton said.