WADA ‘sexed up’ anti-Russia case, implicated clean athletes – Australian media, citing officials

A number of Russian athletes were named in WADA’s McLaren report despite there being no evidence they had committed doping offenses, according to sources cited by The Australian newspaper, who also say this was done to try and initiate a blanket Russian Rio ban.

The McLaren report, which was commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), accused the Russian state of being complicit in helping to cover up positive doping tests and led WADA and a number of Western anti-doping agencies to call for Russia to be excluded from the Olympics. 

The Australian alleges that there are members within the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who believe the release of the McLaren report on the eve of the Olympics was designed to set off the “nuclear option” of issuing a blanket ban on Russia competing at the games. 

Once it was clear that the IOC was not going to support a full ban, the author of the report, the Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, handed over the names of Russian athletes who had been cited in his document to the 28 federations. 

These names had initially not been published when the report was first made public on July 18. However, The paper’s sources reportedly said that WADA now has a problem as it “had been caught short not having enough detail to justify some of the claims against athletes.” 

“They sexed it up which is crazy because now the entire report is under scrutiny and I am sure most of the report is absolutely accurate. It just puts question marks where question marks should not be,” a sports official told the publication. 

The president of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, who is also an IOC vice president, reportedly wrote to Australia’s Health Minister Susan Ley, saying that the IOC had a “lack of confidence in WADA.” 

The Australian also reports that the IOC “has issued an urgent notice to all sports to reassess whether a Russian competitor was ‘implicated’ in the McLaren report, which may lead to some Russians being reinstated for Rio.” 

McLaren said there was evidence that 170 Russian athletes, the majority of whom were set to compete in Rio, had previously had positive doping tests destroyed by the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory. 

Following further analysis of the samples carried out at the Moscow laboratory, it was found that Russian samples were split into four separate categories of seriousness. However, one of these categories was for samples which were not considered serious at all. 

“We were asked to make a judgment about Russian competitors based on McLaren’s report but without having any of the detail to understand the significance of them being named,” a senior sports official said, as cited by The Australian. “Now to be told that there were four different categories - why weren’t we told this at the very beginning? It’s a mess and it’s WADA’s fault.’’

Russian swimmers Vladimir Morozov and Nikita Lobintsev were two athletes initially banned from competing at the Rio games, despite the pair never having failed a drugs test in their careers.  

The Australian says the swimmers had an “S” next to their name in their profile documents from the Moscow Anti-Doping Agency. However, the paper states this was possibly not a code to “save” them by changing their test samples, but was rather likely to be a minor transgression such as an out of competition positive test for cannabis. 

Morozov and Lobintsev appealed their bans to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), which subsequently deferred the case to the IOC. A three-person panel from the organization eventually ruled that the pair would be allowed to compete, TASS reported citing an IOC ruling they obtained.

The president of the Russian Olympic Committee, Aleksandr Zhukov, hopes that between 270 and 280 of the country’s athletes will be able to compete at the games, which start on Friday. Russia took a team of over 430 athletes to the Olympics in London four years ago.

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