A letter drafted by U.S. and Canadian anti-doping leaders that is urging the removal of Russia from the upcoming Olympics is circulating days before the public release of a report that is likely to detail a state-sponsored doping system that corrupted the country’s entire sports program.
Russia is presently challenging the ban imposed by the world governing body of athletics on its track and field athletes at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, with the tribunal expected to conclude on 21 July.
The letter that was drafted last week is being prepared to possibly be sent to the President and Executive board of the International Olympic Committee after the Monday release of a report by investigator Richard McLaren.
The commission, headed by Dr Richard McLaren, primarily looked into claims made by Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, a former anti-doping chief, who alleged dozens of athletes, including at least 15 medalists at the 2014 Winter Olympics, were part of an extensive state-run doping program.
U.S. Anti-Doping Agency official said the letter would be sent only if the McLaren report details widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russia. The letter calls for the International Olympic Committee to act by July 26 so that the Olympic Committee and sports federations of Russia will not be allowed in Rio de Janeiro, where the games are set to start on August 5. The letter nevertheless encourages exceptions for Russia-born athletes who are able to prove they were subject to strong anti-doping systems in other countries.
USADA CEO Travis Tygart said the letter that has the backing from anti-doping agencies in at least six countries and athlete groups from around the world was drafted with no intent for it to become public till the time McLaren report revealed evidence of a major state-sponsored doping program. Last month, preliminary findings from the report disclosed mandatory state-directed manipulation of laboratory analytical results operating within the Moscow anti-doping lab from at least 2011 through the summer of 2013. The preliminary findings also suggested Russia’s Ministry of Sport advised the laboratory which of its adverse findings it could report to the World Anti-Doping Agency, and which it had to cover up.
The letter, based in part on that information, anticipates that the McLaren report will show the Russian government helped organize a systematic undermining of the drug testing of Russian athletes for many years in a successful effort to cheat to win.
A statement from Pat Hickey, the president of the European Olympic Committee, remarked the letter undermined the integrity and therefore the credibility of this important report. Hickey also commented that his concern is that there seems to have been an attempt to agree on an outcome before any evidence has been presented.
In another development, Beckie Scott, head of the athlete committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency, in a letter urged athletes to sign onto the U.S.-Canada letter. The WADA athlete committee's head informed in the letter athletes that, in addition to support from Tygart and Canada’s anti-doping head, Paul Melia, the letter also has backing from anti-doping agencies in Germany, New Zealand, Japan, France, Denmark, and Norway.