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Corruption - Sports / Doping

The investigation into allegations of doping by Russian athletes found that the country's sports ministry oversaw a scheme to manipulate positive test results. Allegations of sample switching made by Moscow's former Anti-Doping Laboratory Head Grigory Rodchenkov were found to be widely credible, World Anti-Doping Agency lead investigator, Richard McLaren, said 18 July 2016. "The Moscow laboratory operated, for the protection of doped Russian athletes, within a state-dictated failsafe system... Through the coordinating efforts of the CSP (Center of Sports Preparation of National Teams of Russia), Russian athletes were instructed to collect what were thought to be clean urine samples outside of the 'wash-out' periods for any performance enhancing drugs they were using."

The Report noted that "The FSB was intricately entwined in the scheme to allow Russian athletes to compete while dirty. The FSB developed a method to surreptitiously open the urine bottles to enable sample swapping."

Sir Craig Reedie, President of WADA, said “The Report corroborates evidence provided by Dr. Rodchenkov, which reveals to the world of sport an extent of deliberate abuse of power and process in Russia that is totally unacceptable for all athletes, the broader sports community and the nations against which they compete ... It reveals that the Russian Ministry of Sport manipulated the doping control process of the 2014 Sochi Games; the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow; the 2013 World University Games in Kazan; and, put measures in place to circumvent anti-doping processes before the 2012 London Games.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said that Russian doping cover-ups confirmed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on July 18 showed a "shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and the Olympic Games", and that it would not hesitate to take the "toughest sanctions available." In a statement, IOC President Thomas Bach said the Olympic committee"will now carefully study the complex and detailed allegations in particular with regard to the Russian Ministry of Sport."

Joseph de Pencier, the chief executive of the Institute of National Anti-Doping Organization, wrote it is "very likely" the investigation "will confirm what will be one of the biggest doping scandals in history, implicating the Russian Government in a massive conspiracy against the clean athletes of the world." He added, "This will be a 'watershed moment' for clean sport."

Russian President Vladimir Putin said 18 July 2016 that the doping scandal involving Russia athletes is a result of the interference of politics in sport. "We see a dangerous throwback to political interference in sport. Yes, the form of such an intervention has changed, but the essence is the same: to make sport an instrument of geopolitical pressure and create a negative image of countries and nations," Putin said.

Use of performance-enhancing supplements occurs at all levels of sports, from professional athletes to junior high school students. Although some supplements do enhance athletic performance, many have no proven benefits and have serious adverse effects. Anabolic steroids and ephedrine have life-threatening adverse effects and are prohibited by the International Olympic Committee and the National Collegiate Athletic Association for use in competition. Blood transfusions, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone are also prohibited in competition. Caffeine, creatine, and sodium bicarbonate have been shown to enhance performance in certain contexts and have few adverse effects. No performance benefit has been shown with amino acids, beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate, chromium, human growth hormone, and iron. Carbohydrate-electrolyte beverages have no serious adverse effects and can aid performance when used for fluid replacement.

In late classical antiquity, Greek specialists were described offering athletes nutritional ingredients in order to enhance their physical performance. This was considered absolutely necessary and the providers might be compared with current sports medicine specialists. Athletes were reported trying to increase their physical strength by eating different kinds of meat or testis prior to the games. During the Olympic Games in the Third Century BC athletes tried to increase their performance using mushrooms. Filostratos reported that doctors were significantly helpful in athletes’ preparation for the games and cooks prepared bread with analgesic properties.

The first documented case of doping occured in 1865 in swimming during the Amsterdam canal event, where the intake of an unnamed performance-enhancing drug was described. In 1867, during the popular 6-days cycling races, the French athletes preferred mixtures based on caffeine, the Belgians used sugar mixed with ether, while others were using alcoholic beverages or nitroglycerin. The first reported death caused by doping occurred in 1896, when the English cyclist A. Linton died due to ephedrine intake during the Paris-Bordeaux cycling race.

The former head of Russia's Anti-Doping Agency, Nikita Kamayev, contacted a British newspaper shortly before his sudden death, allegedly of a heart attack, offering to expose the country's development of performance-enhancing drugs. Kamayev, who resigned as executive director of Russia's Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) in mid-December, died on February 14 at the age of 52. The agency's founding chairman, Vyacheslav Sinev, died on 03 February 2016. Following Sinev's departure from RUSADA in 2010, Kamayev took over as the day-to-day head of RUSADA from 2011 until his resignation in December 2015.

London's Sunday Times reported that 10 weeks before Kamayev allegedly died of a heart attack, he wrote an e-mail to the Sunday Times saying he wanted to write a book that would reveal the complete extent of doping in Russia. "I want to write a book about the true story of sport pharmacology and doping in Russia since 1987 while being a young scientist working in a secret lab in the U.S.S.R. Institute of Sports Medicine," he wrote in the e-mail. He added that he had "information and facts that have never been published."

Maria Sharapova, Russia's iconic tennis champion, was banned from tennis for two year for using meldonium, also known as mildronate, it increases exercise capacity in athletes. Sharapova claimed she had been taking the drug for 10 years because of a magnesium deficiency and family history of diabetes. This Soviet era medicine is still made in Latvia which is very commonly used in the former USSR, and which it was perfectly legal for athletes to use until just the beginning of 2016. The Russians have made it fairly clear they think the reason meldonium was placed on the list of prohibited substances is because Western athletes don't take it as it is hardly known in the West. By contrast many Russian athletes do take it - as do many other Russians - for purely medical reasons.

An international anti-doping commission recommended on 09 November 2015 that the Russian Athletics Federation be banned from the sport over widespread doping offences in move that could see the powerhouse Russian team miss next year's Rio Olympics. The commission, set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), found a "deeply rooted culture of cheating" in Russian athletics. But it also identified what it called systemic failures in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). It said in its report that the London 2012 Olympics had been "sabotaged" by the widespread inaction of international and national anti-doping authorities. The scandal revolves around accusations that money was demanded from top athletes to 'bury' medical tests from Russian athletes that showed drug use to enhance performance.

It could prove as damaging to world athletics as the corruption affair now shaking soccer's world governing body FIFA. The IAAF, which has been engulfed in a crisis spanning alleged corruption, bribery and widespread doping cover-ups, said steps would be taken to ban the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF).

World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound told a news conference "It's worse than we thought, it has the effect, unlike other forms of corruption of actually effecting the results on the field of play...If you can't believe results then there is a serious credibility problem. I hope all sports will look at their governance and their anti-doping systems because their existence may be at risk."

Russia said allegations its athletes were part of widespread doping and efforts to cover it up are "groundless" and insisted its policies strictly adhered to those of the global anti-doping agency and the International Olympic Committee. Russia's Sports Ministry said it is aware of problems in Russian athletics and declared its commitment to fighting doping in sports. The ministry said it will cooperate with WADA to eliminate violations by its anti-doping agency and laboratory.

The Kremlin rejected claims made by a former anti-doping official that dozens of Russian athletes -- including more than a dozen medalists at the 2014 Winter Olympics -- were part of a large-scale, state-run doping program. Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov, speaking to reporters in a 13 May 2016 conference call, described the allegations made by Grigory Rodchenkov as unsubstantiated slander by a "defector."

Rodchenkov, the ex-director of Russia's anti-doping agency RUSADA, told The New York Times on May 12 that he helped provide banned substances to athletes and replace drug-tainted testing samples with clean ones during the Sochi Olympics. Rodchenkov, who was awarded a presidential order after the Sochi games, was later forced to resign and has since fled to the United States.

Russian track and field athletes remain suspended from Rio after the IOC offered "respect, approval and support" for a blanket ban on them - extended on 17 June 2016 by world athletics' governing body - for systemic doping. Olympic chief Thomas Bach said any Russian athlete cleared by the world athletics body IAAF or the Court of Arbitration for Sport as clean and eligible would compete under the Russian flag.

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Page last modified: 21-07-2016 18:45:38 ZULU