World Anti-Doping Agency: Keep Russia Out of Olympics

In an unprecedented move that could keep the world's largest country from competing in Brazil next month, the executive board of the World Anti-Doping Agency has called for a full competition ban for Russian athletes, due to an array of scandals. The International Olympic Committee has promised a tough response.

The world’s most prominent anti-doping regulatory body has drawn a stark line in the sand—and if the agency has its way, Russia could find itself on the other side.

On Monday, the executive board of the World Anti-Doping Agency called for all Russian teams to be banned from next month’s Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The move comes in the wake of an independent report, written by Western University Law Professor Richard McLaren and released by WADA on Monday, that alleges numerous Russian athletes took performance-enhancing drugs at previous Olympics, including the 2014 Winter Games, hosted by the Russian city of Sochi.

“Upon embarking on its investigation the [investigator] quickly found a wider means of concealing positive doping results than had been publicly described for Sochi,” the report states.

The Canadian professor emphasized that his report, which effectively confirms a widespread state-sponsored cover-up of steroid use by Russian athletes, presents the facts, but it is up to WADA to act on them.

“My mandate was to establish facts, not to make recommendations,” McLaren said, according to The Guardian. “It is for others to take and absorb and act upon my report.”

But WADA’s board wasted no time in acting. Members recommended that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) take immediate action to stop Russian athletes from competing in next month’s Olympics, especially since the report underscores WADA’s own findings.

“Since WADA’s Independent Commission report, senior Russian politicians have started to publicly acknowledge the existence of long-standing doping practices in Russia and have conceded that a significant culture change is required,” WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said in a news release. “The McLaren report makes it ever more clear that such culture change needs to be cascaded from the very top in order to deliver the necessary reform that clean sport needs.”

In response to the report and WADA’s recommendations, IOC pledged to take tough actions against the Russian Olympic team.

“The findings of the report show a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games. Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated,” President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

The committee had previously banned Russian track and field athletes from participating in the Games but compromised by letting independently tested Russian athletes continue to compete. That decision was welcomed by the World Olympians Association, which has argued against blanket bans.

(Jim Young/Reuters)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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