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New Russian doping report confirms evidence of state-sponsored cheating

An independent investigation led by a Canadian law professor has confirmed evidence of widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russian sports, further fuelling calls for a full ban on the country from next month's Rio Olympics.

IOC meeting Tuesday to discuss sanctions; WADA recommends full Rio ban

World Anti-Doping Association finds the Russian sports ministry responsible for cover-up to boost medal count. 1:30

An independent investigation led by a Canadian law professor has confirmed evidence of widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russian sports, further fuelling calls for a full ban on the country from next month's Rio Olympics.

Richard McLaren of Western University in London, Ont., released his findings today at news conference in Toronto, saying labs in Moscow and Sochi protected Russian athletes.

In short, Russia's deputy minister of sports, who was also part of Russia's Olympic Committee, would direct workers at Moscow's anti-doping laboratory of which positive samples to send through and which to hold back. Assisting the plan was Russia's national security service — the FSB, the current version of the Soviet Union's KGB.

McLaren said Russia's cheating program, which he dubbed the "disappearing positive methodology," lasted from 2011 — shortly after Russia's disappointing showing at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics — through at least last year's world swimming championships in Kazan, Russia. His timeframe includes the 2013 track and field world championships in Moscow.

McLaren said out of 577 positive sample screenings, 312 positive results were held back — or labeled "Save"' by the lab workers — but that was only a "small slice" of the data that could have been examined. More than 240 of the 312 "Saves"' came from track and field and wrestling, but other sports involved included swimming, rowing, snowboarding — and even table tennis.

According to McLaren's 97-page report, which was commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency, the lab at the Sochi Olympics "operated a unique sample swapping methodology" that allowed Russian athletes to compete at the 2014 Winter Games, where the host country topped the medal table with 13 gold medals and 33 medals overall.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Russian officials named in the report will be temporarily suspended, but asked for more detailed and "objective" information, saying the report was based on the testimony of just one man (whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov) and that the Olympic movement could be on the verge of split.

In a statement published by the Kremlin, Putin said that there was no place for doping in sport as it was a threat to the lives and health of the athletes and discredited fair play.

WADA wants all Russian athletes banned from Rio

Hours after McLaren presented his report, WADA recommended that the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee ban all Russian athletes from the Rio Games, which open Aug. 5.

WADA also said Russian government officials should be denied access to international competitions, including Rio 2016, and the anti-doping watchdog also called on world governing bodies of sports implicated in the report to consider action against Russian national bodies.

IOC president Thomas Bach said the IOC's executive board will meet via conference call Tuesday to make initial decisions on possible further sanctions against Russia.

Other organizations, including the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport and the United States Anti-Doping agency, had said they would call for a blanket ban on Russia for the Rio Games if McLaren's report showed evidence of a widespread, state-sponsored doping conspiracy. McLaren's report said it did, and the investigator said he was "unwaveringly confident in my report."

Russia's track and field athletes are already banned from representing their country at the Rio Olympics as part of the fallout from a doping scandal that began late last year when a WADA-commissioned investigation led by Canadian Dick Pound, and including McLaren, uncovered a widespread, state-sponsored doping program in Russia.

Bach said the IOC "will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated" in the McLaren report, which he called "a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games."

However, Bach indicated last week that he was reluctant to see athletes from one sport punished for the crimes of those, or officials, from another.

Among those not in favour of a full Russian ban was the head of gymnastics — a sport that was not among the 28 with non-reported positives.

"The right to participate at the games cannot be stolen from an athlete, who has duly qualified and has not be found guilty of doping," said Bruno Grandi, president of gymnastics' international federation. "Blanket bans have never been and will never be just."

The 'nuclear option'

McLaren did not include recommendations for punishment in his report. He said he considered the move, but instead urged the IOC and others to "absorb and act upon" the information as they wish.

Russian Olympic chief Alexander Zhukov said he was pleased that McLaren's report did not include recommendations on punishment.

The possibility of Russia's entire team being excluded from Rio has been called the "nuclear option" by Pound.

WADA commissioned McLaren's investigation to examine accusations made by former Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory head Grigory Rodchenkov, who two months ago told the New York Times that dozens of Russians used performance-enhancing drugs in Sochi with approval from national sports authorities.

Rodchenkov, who now lives in the United States, claimed that up to 15 Russian medal winners at the Sochi Winter Games were part of a program in which tainted urine samples were switched for clean ones.

McLaren's report said Rodchenkov's allegations went much as described.

According to McLaren, Rodchenkov and all other witnesses interviewed were deemed credible and the personnel at the Moscow laboratory did not have a choice in whether to be involved in the state-directed system.

With files from The Canadian Press, Reuters and CBC Sports

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