A report on Russian doping was used by the Court of Arbitration for Sport to uphold a suspension, the first time that information was used to ban an athlete.
The ruling opens the possibility of more cases against Russian athletes based on World Anti-Doping Agency investigator Richard McLaren's report, even when their drug-test samples may have been destroyed or never officially entered into the system.
CAS recently ruled that Russian triple jumper Anna Pyatykh had used banned substances based on records of secret drug testing in 2013. Documents leaked by former Moscow laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov mentioned Pyatykh as part of a "washout" scheme, with unofficial internal testing finding four banned substances in the run-up to the 2013 track world championships in Moscow.
The idea was that Russian athletes would be free to use banned substances ahead of the competition, then stop in time to test clean at the actual event while keeping the benefits of extra muscle power. The in-house "washout" tests — forbidden under WADA rules — were used to cover up doping by ensuring the athlete would appear clean later.
CAS arbitrator Jens Evald, a Danish law professor, ruled the "circumstantial evidence" of documents recording these washout tests were enough to show Pyatykh had doped, even though there were no samples available to test. The records showed "the athlete took part of a sophisticated doping plan or scheme and that she used multiple prohibited substances on more than one occasion," the court said.
Pyatykh, who was also found guilty of another doping offense from 2007 unrelated to the McLaren report, denied using any banned substances and said she never gave any samples for illicit or unofficial tests.
The McLaren report was aimed at investigating Russian drug use as a whole, rather than proving individual doping cases. More than 1,000 samples were destroyed at the Moscow laboratory during an earlier WADA investigation, only for Rodchenkov to later provide evidence to WADA, saying his life was in danger at home.