The trouble with Ostarine: Jimmy Wallhead’s
16th March 2018
Part two of the Independent Person (IP) Report produced by Professor Richard McLaren for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) provided evidence that over 1,000 athletes in 30 sports benefitted from a state-sanctioned doping programme operating in Russia from 2011 until 2015. The 144-page report was also accompanied by an evidential cache of ‘non-confidential’ information, containing 1,166 documents including photos, forensic reports, testing analysis, schedules, emails and working documents. That cache appears to back up assertions, made in Part One of the WADA IP Report, that the systemic doping outlined in both reports was organised by the Russian state.
At a press conference yesterday (video below), McLaren said that the Russia’s “desire to win medals superseded their collective moral and ethical compass and their Olympic values of fair play”. He also said that the London 2012 Olympics were “corrupted on an unprecedented scale”.
Although McLaren’s mandate called for him to identify athletes that may have benefitted from the systemic doping outlined in Part 1 of the WADA IP Report, his report didn’t name athletes. Sport’s international federations and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) now face the task of sifting through the evidence uncovered by the IP team and issuing sanctions to athletes. Given the unprecedented scale of the findings, this could include major adjustment of competition results and reallocation of medals, especially as the World Anti-Doping Code requires the disqualification of a team result if a single athlete on that team tests positive.
‘In terms of next steps, the Investigation Team is providing WADA with an Evidentiary Summary for each athlete referred to in the Report by alpha-numeric code’, read a WADA statement issued today. ‘Starting today, WADA will provide these Summaries to all IFs whose athletes are mentioned within the Report; as well as, to the IOC, the IPC and other relevant organizations. Once in possession of these Summaries, these organizations will be responsible for reviewing the evidence available for each case; and, for determining whether or not there are sufficient elements to pursue ADRVs or, whether further investigations are required.’
Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), labelled the conduct outlined in the Report “a fundamental attack on the integrity of sport” and said that he personally supported life bans for those implicated. “For me, as an Olympian, and athlete or official who took part in such a sophisticated manipulation system should be excluded for life from any participation in the Olympic Games”, he said (video below).
The IOC has already established two Commissions that will examine the findings of the WADA IP Report. In a statement, the IOC confirmed that the mandate of the Disciplinary Commission chaired by Denis Oswald has been extended to examine all samples taken from all Russian athletes at the London 2012 and Sochi 2014 Olympics. This means that further athletes are likely to be sanctioned alongside the 41 athletes that have returned an adverse analytical finding (AAF) due to IOC retests of samples given at the Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympics.
The Russian Ministry of Sport (MoS) denied that the doping uncovered in the report was state-sanctioned. ‘The Ministry of Sports of Russia disclaims any government support programmes for doping in sport and will continue to fight doping with a position of zero tolerance’, read a statement. It added that the information within Part Two of the WADA IP Report would be carefully analysed to form a ‘constructive position’ in the future. The Report pointed out that Russian Minister for Sport, Vitaly Mutko, was ‘unable to make suitable meeting arrangements’ with the WADA IP team.
“Over the past few months, we have seen infighting between the many different factions within international federations and among the anti-doping world”, said McLaren, who refused to share his findings with the IOC before Part 2 of the WADA IP Report was published, as this letter reveals. “I find it difficult to understand why we are not all on the same team. We should all be working together to end doping in sports.”
Some of the key findings of the Report are as follows:
• Over 1,000 Russian athletes benefitted from the concealment of positive doping tests. Based on the information sent to International Federations by the WADA IP team there were 600 (84%) summer athletes and 95 (16%) winter athletes.
• 695 Russian athletes and 19 foreign athletes were identified as part of the manipulations to conceal potentially positive doping control tests.
• The ’systematic and centralised’ cover up and manipulation of the doping control process existed from 2011 until 2015, and was ‘refined’ over the course of the London 2012 Olympics, the 2013 Moscow International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Championships and the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
• ‘Washout’ testing was utilised in Russia to ascertain if doped athletes would test positive at major events.
• The sample swapping technique used at Sochi became a ‘regular monthly practice’ of the Moscow Laboratory in dealing with elite summer and winter athletes.
• Fifteen Russian athlete medal winners at the London 2012 Olympics were identified out of the 78 on the London Washout Lists. Ten of these athletes have now had their medals stripped.
• Samples given by two female ice-hockey players were found to contain male DNA, held to indicate sample swapping.
• Clean A samples were altered so that the specific gravity matched that declared on the Doping Control Forms (DCFs) of the dirty B samples by ‘diluting with water, adding salt, sediment or Nescafe granules’. A clean urine bank was kept in order to alter samples of doped athletes.
• It appears that sample bottles were not tamper proof. ‘The lids of the Berlinger BEREG-KIT urine sample bottles I examined can be removed by inserting thin flexible strips of metal or plastic between the lid and the glass bottle, lifting the metal ring and turning the lid anti-clockwise’, reads a forensic report published by the WADA IP team. ‘Metal strips are expected to leave marks (unless they are very smooth) and plastic strips are not expected to leave marks’.
Martial Saugy is a Director of the WADA-accredited Lausanne laboratory, however he also worked as a paid consultant at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics. Evidence he provided to the IP team revealed that 67 samples which WADA ordered the Moscow laboratory to send to Lausanne for further analysis were destroyed as a matter of normal procedure, as the laboratory ‘never received a formal request of long term storage’ of the samples from WADA.
The Deputy Director of the Centre of Sports Preparation of the National Teams of Russia (CSP) was Irina Rodionova. Part Two of the WADA IP Report found that ‘In some manner unknown to the IP, at some point during the day, Rodionova became aware of the names of athletes who were to be tested on that particular day’. For the sample-swapping to occur at night time within the Sochi 2014 laboratory, as Part One of the WADA IP Report outlined, sufficient time would be needed to allow clean samples of urine to thaw naturally. ‘Knowing the names in advance of the night-time sample swapping was critical for the preparation of clean urine samples’, writes McLaren in the Report. ‘Since mechanical heating of the sample could trigger degradation of the urine, this time before the samples were swapped allowed the clean samples to thaw naturally. Once the urine was thawed, Dr. Rodchenkov’s second in command at the Sochi Laboratory, Yuri Chizov, would adjust the specific gravity of the samples to reflect the values of the original dirty sample indicated on the DCF.’
How Rodionova became aware of who was going to be tested is a crucial point that does not appear to have been explained. Testing at an event often depends on the results of a race or competition, and if that competition or race took place late in the day, it is questionable as to whether enough time remained for the samples of clean urine to thaw naturally so that they could be used to replace the dirty urine.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has produced two Independent Commission Reports and two Independent Person Reports into allegations of systemic Russian Doping. The Independent Commission was headed by WADA’s Founding President, Dick Pound and also featured McLaren and Günter Younger, later hired as WADA’s Director of Intelligence and Investigations.
McLaren was appointed as an Independent Person by WADA to examine allegations that the laboratory at the Sochi 2014 Olympics was corrupt. To assist the Independent Person, WADA also appointed an Investigation Team led by WADA’s Investigations Manager, Mathieu Holz and including Director of the WADA-accredited laboratory in Montreal, Professor Christiane Ayotte.
It does not appear to have been within the mandate of the IC or the mandate of the IP to examine WADA’s own failures to deal with the issue of systemic Russian doping. These are as follows:
• Failing to investigate why Russia reported no AAFs from any of its athletes at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
• WADA wrote to Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, Director of the Sochi 2014 laboratory, informing him that a ‘surprise’ inspection was due to take place (p42 of Part One of the WADA IP Report). This resulted in the destruction of 8,000 of 10,000 stored samples held at the laboratory.
• WADA failed to send a request for long-term storage of 67 samples sent from the Moscow laboratory to the Lausanne laboratory in October 2012, resulting in the destruction of those key samples.
• WADA failed to follow up on the Independent Observer report from the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, which highlighted state interference in the laboratory.
The mandate of the WADA IC and IP appears to have been to investigate allegations of systemic Russian doping. This included the shadow laboratory – Room 124 – in operation at the Sochi 2014 Olympics. However, allegations have been made that shadow laboratories were in operation in other countries.
Nikita Kamaev, a former Director of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), had been planning to write exposing doping in sport. Kamaev died on Valentine’s Day this year. ‘Presumably, the cause of death was a massive heart attack’, wrote RUSADA in a statement a day later.
Professor Verner Møller of Aarhus University had been in contact with Kamaev about collaborating on the book. “Kamaev wanted to write a book about not only doping in Russia, but about doping all over the world”, Møller told The Sports Integrity Initiative. “He had evidence that there was a secret doping laboratory outside of Russia. That is something that he wanted to show me when we met, but unfortunately we did not have a chance to meet before he passed away.”
While WADA may consider the conclusion of the IP Report as a job done, nobody has investigated its own potential failings in managing the situation. This is perhaps not surprising, considering that it set the mandates and appointed the people for both the IC and the IP Reports. Kamaev’s allegations appear to suggest that the ‘sample swapping’ methodology outlined in the IC and IP Reports may have extended beyond Russia. Until those allegations are properly explored, it may be naive to think that that we have seen the light at the end of sport’s long, dark, tunnel.
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