World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) President Sir Craig Reedie has admitted the timing of the release of Richard McLaren’s report into alleged doping in Russia was “destabilising” so close to Rio 2016 but claimed they “acted without delay”.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach had sought yesterday to make WADA the scapegoat for the controversy over the participation of Russia at these Olympic Games following allegations of state-sponsored doping made by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren in his Report published on July 18.
The German claimed the IOC “cannot be made responsible either for the timing or the reasons of these incidents we have to face now and which we are addressing and have to address now just a couple of days before the Olympic Games."
Sir Craig, who is also a vice-president of the IOC, claimed they acted following fresh allegations which emerged in May during an interview given by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory to the New York Times.
The McLaren Report confirmed the accusations made by Rodchenkov, who claimed that up to 15 Russian Olympic medal winners at Sochi 2014 were implicated in a clandestine operation in which doping samples were switched for clean ones.
Rodchenkov, the subject of a criminal case from Russian Federal investigators, alleged that the state-sponsored scheme involved athletes ingesting a "three-drug cocktail" of banned steroids which were mixed with alcohol.
It also featured as a covert system to replace the urine of affected medal winners with clean samples using soda containers and baby bottles.
“It was only when CBS 60 Minutes and the New York Times, on 8 and 12 May 2016 respectively, published the allegations from the former director of the Moscow and Sochi laboratories, Grigory Rodchenkov, that WADA had concrete evidence suggesting Russian state involvement that could be investigated by initiating the McLaren Investigation, which we did immediately,” Sir Craig said.
“WADA’s Executive Committee - composed in equal parts by representatives of the Olympic Movement and Governments of the world - supported Professor McLaren’s independent mandate, which was to obtain evidence as quickly as possible in the interest of clean athletes.
“While it is destabilising in the lead up to the Games, it is obvious, given the seriousness of the revelations that he uncovered, that they had to be published and acted upon without delay.”
A total of 119 Russian athletes have so far been banned from taking part at Rio 2016.
"Further to the International Olympic Committee’s criteria being outlined on 24 July, WADA has facilitated the transfer of relevant information that is available to date, concerning individual athletes, from the McLaren Investigation team to International Federations,” WADA director general Olivier Niggli said.
"It should be noted however that Professor McLaren’s focus thus far was on establishing involvement of the Russian State and not regarding individual athletes that may have benefitted.
"WADA will continue supporting anti-doping organisations by providing information as and when it becomes available via McLaren’s ongoing Investigation.”