WADA obtains new evidence in Russian doping investigation

Whistle-blower provided database that could widen scope

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced on Friday that it had obtained new evidence in the case of state-sponsored doping of athletes in Russia, saying its independent Intelligence and Investigations (I&I) department "is in possession of an electronic file that the Department is confident is the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) database of the Moscow Laboratory, i.e. all testing data between January 2012 – August 2015."

The NY Times reported that the database came not through official channels but through a whistle-blower, and could widen the scope of an investigation that has already produced two independent reports headed up by Richard McLaren.

Before the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, McLaren was able to confirm allegations that the Russian government was behind efforts to subvert the anti-doping procedures by the Moscow Laboratory, protecting riders from doping positives and even swapping samples during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Part of the scheme involved the laboratory reporting analytical doping positives to the Ministry of Sport, which would then decide whether to protect the athlete or not. If the Ministry directed it, the laboratory would report the sample falsely as negative in WADA's Anti-Doping Management System (ADAMS).

But the new trove of data would likely contain the original positive results and the identity of the athlete who submitted the sample. With this information, WADA would be able to cross-check the result in ADAMS against that of the Russian LIMS database, and potentially declare anti-doping rule violations, where it had before struggled to do so without direct evidence.

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The McLaren report suggested that around 1,000 athletes benefited either directly or indirectly from the cover-up, and while the focus currently rests on the athletes set to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Korea, no sport seemed to be immune from the fraudulent scheme, including cycling.

"WADA continues to stand firmly behind the outcomes of the Agency's independent McLaren Investigation," said Craig Reedie, WADA President. "This new intelligence serves to reinforce our requirement of Russian authorities that they too publicly accept the outcomes; so that, we can all move forward in rebuilding public trust and confidence in Russian sport."

With the threat of exclusion from Pyeongchang looming, Russia is now forced to consider WADA's demands to "publically accept the reported outcomes of the McLaren Investigation" and the government "must provide access for appropriate entities to the stored samples and electronic data in the Moscow Laboratory" in order to get back on the path of compliance with the WADA code.

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