In a devastatingly critical report, a World Anti-Doping Agency panel accused the Russian government on Monday of complicity in widespread doping and coverups by its track and field athletes and said they should all be banned from competition — possibly even next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro — until the country cleans up its act.
The report from a WADA commission that has been probing media allegations of widespread doping and deception in Russia — host of soccer's next World Cup — said even the country's intelligence service, the FSB, was involved, spying on Moscow's anti-doping lab, including during last year's Winter Games in Sochi.
The commission chaired by Dick Pound recommended that WADA immediately declare the Russian federation "non-compliant" with the global anti-doping code, and that the IAAF (track and field's world governing body) suspend the federation from competition.
"It's pretty disturbing," Pound said. "It's worse than we thought."
"It may be a residue of the old Soviet Union system," he added at a news conference in Geneva.
Pound said the doping could be called state-sponsored.
"They would certainly have known," he said of Russian officials.
The commission said the International Olympic Committee should not accept any entries from the Russian athletics federation until the body has been declared complaint with the code and the suspension has been lifted. Such a decision could keep Russian athletes out of next year's Olympics in Brazil.
If Russia doesn't clean up, "the outcome may be that there are no Russian track and field athletes in Rio," Pound said.
But he also said there may still be time for Russia to avoid that, if it starts reforming immediately.
"I think they can do it, I hope they can," Pound said.
IAAF considers suspending Russia
The IAAF said it would consider sanctions against Russia, including possible suspension of the national athletics federation.
Such a move would result in the ban of Russian track and field athletes from international competition, including the Olympics.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe announced the decision after the release of the WADA commission's report.
Coe said he "has taken the urgent step" of seeking approval from the IAAF council to consider sanctions against the Russian Athletics Federation.
He said "these sanctions could include provisional and full suspension and the removal of future IAAF events."
Coe called the WADA report "alarming" and said "we will do whatever it takes to protect the clean athletes and rebuild trust in our sport."
The International Olympic Committee said it would carefully study Pound's report for any violations involving the Olympics.
"If any infringements on the anti-doping rules by athletes and or their entourage should be established, the IOC will react with its usual zero tolerance policy," it said.
Olympic leaders recently agreed that drug-testing should be taken out of the hands of sports federations and asked WADA to take over testing on a global level. WADA leaders will discuss the issue at a meeting next week in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"The IOC will continue to take whatever measures needed to safeguard clean athletes, clean sport and good governance," the committee said.
Lifetime bans recommended
The gold and bronze-medal winners in the women's 800 metres at the London Olympics were among the five Russian runners targeted for lifetime bans by the WADA commission.
The commission recommended lifetime bans for Olympic champion Mariya Savinova-Farnosova and bronze medalist Ekaterina Poistogova.
The commission's report said the London Games were sabotaged because track's governing body and Russia's anti-doping authority didn't take doping seriously enough and allowed runners to compete who should not have.
Russian sports minister knew: Pound
The commission accused the Russian state of complicity. It said its months-long probe found no written evidence of government involvement but it added: "It would be naive in the extreme to conclude that activities on the scale discovered could have occurred without the explicit or tacit approval of Russian governmental authorities."
The report said agents from the FSB even infiltrated Russia's anti-doping work at the Sochi Olympics. One witness told the inquiry that "in Sochi, we had some guys pretending to be engineers in the lab but actually they were from the federal security service."
Staff at Russia's anti-doping lab in Moscow believed their offices were bugged by the FSB and an FSB agent, thought to be Evgeniy Blotkin or Blokhin, regularly visited.
This was part of a wider pattern of "direct intimidation and interference by the Russian state with the Moscow laboratory operations," the report said.
Pound said Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko must also have known.
"It was not possible for him to be unaware of it," Pound said.
The commission report said Mutko issued direct orders to "manipulate particular samples."
Mutko, who is also a FIFA executive committee member and leads the 2018 World Cup organizing committee, denied wrongdoing to the WADA inquiry panel, including knowledge of athletes being blackmailed and FSB intelligence agents interfering in lab work.
The WADA report also said Moscow testing laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov ordered 1,417 doping control samples destroyed to deny evidence for the inquiry.
It said Rodchenkov "personally instructed and authorized" the destruction of evidence three days before a WADA audit team arrived in Moscow last December.
The WADA panel said it wanted to send the Russian athletes' samples to labs in other countries to detect banned drugs and doping methods.
The panel also raised suspicions that Russia may have has been using an obscure laboratory on the outskirts of Moscow to help cover up widespread doping, possibly by pre-screening athletes' doping samples and ditching those that test positive.
It said whistleblowers and confidential witnesses "corroborated that this second laboratory is involved in the destruction and the coverup of what would otherwise be positive doping tests."
Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport president and CEO Paul Melia commented on today's revelations. "The findings are profoundly disturbing and extremely disappointing," said Melia. "WADA has put the rules in place and is mandated to oversee anti-doping efforts around the world; but, clearly, this report confirms there's still a long way to go before we have a level playing field for athletes who choose to compete clean. And it's not just a problem in Russia, and not just a problem in athletics. The findings released today will impact all athletes and all sports. Without clear values to help shape the system, greed, corruption, winning-at-all-costs and other threats can take over."
Track and field officials face Interpol probe
Interpol will coordinate an investigation into widespread doping in track and field.
The international police agency, based in Lyon, France, said the investigation involving sports officials and athletes suspected of doping cover-ups is led by France.
French prosecutors are already investigating former IAAF president Lamine Diack, who was put under criminal investigation last week on suspicion of corruption and money laundering amid allegations linking his sons to extorting money from athletes who tested positive for doping.
Interpol, whose assistance has been requested by the World Anti-Doping Agency panel investigating the doping allegations, said in a statement that French police also "raided premises belonging to individuals and companies" last week.