Russia systematically supplied its athletes with prohibited performance-enhancing drugs and covered up failed tests by bribing top world sports officials, a report released today in Geneva by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) says. The document published by WADA, an organization funded in part by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), calls for the suspension of all Russian athletes from track and field competitions.
The larger story of Russian doping has been developing for some time and involves a number of different organizations and individuals, but here’s the gist:
- A December 2014 German television documentary alleged that Russian track and field officials overseen by the government’s Sports Ministry supply many of the country’s athletes with banned performance-enhancing drugs and have covered up failed tests by paying bribes to powerful figures in the International Associations of Athletics Federations (IAAF), track and field’s world governing body.
- WADA appointed a commission, chaired by high-profile Canadian athletics official Dick Pound, to investigate the allegations.
- WADA also released data in June 2015 noting that, in 2013, anti-doping authorities had cited Russian athletes and officials for 225 violations, 37 more than any other country.
- Some of the results of WADA’s investigation were released today in a report. The report says that Russian track and field officials gave athletes banned PEDs, that the country’s anti-doping laboratory covered up evidence of PED use, and that the IAAF was complicit in the scheme via “conspiracy” and “bribery and corruption.” French authorities believe more than $1 million in bribes were paid to a now-former IAAF president and now-former IAAF anti-doping chief to suppress positive tests (including some that would have prevented several Russian athletes from competing in the 2012 Olympics).*
- Last week, the French detained those two IAAF officials—former president Lamine Diack, a native of Senagal, and former anti-doping official Gabriel Dollé, who is French—and have opened criminal investigations into their conduct. (Both have since been released. Some of the wrongdoing covered in WADA’s report is alleged to have taken place in France.)
- Dick Pound said at a press conference today that Russian track and field athletes should be suspended from all competition, including the 2016 Rio Olympics if necessary, until it overhauls its anti-doping programs. Pound also said that he believed Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko—who also heads the committee organizing the controversial 2018 Russia World Cup—must have had knowledge of the systematic cheating despite his denials.
And that’s what we know for now. The decision to suspend Russia would be up to the IAAF; Pound also said he hopes to later release some information that was withheld from today’s report in deference to the French criminal investigation.
*Correction, Nov. 12, 2015: This post initially misstated that information about IAAF officials’ alleged crimes came from the WADA commission’s report. That information was disclosed by French officials, though it may have been obtained via a WADA referral of evidence of possible crimes.