Russian government, secret service involved in doping
The International Olympic Committee said that Russian doping cover-ups confirmed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) yesterday 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.
An independent report commissioned by Wada confirmed extraordinary systematic abuse of the anti-doping process across many sports by Russian authorities before and during the Winter Olympics in the Russian city of Sochi in 2014.
In a statement, IOC President Thomas Bach said the IOC "will now carefully study the complex and detailed allegations in particular with regard to the Russian Ministry of Sport".
The IOC Executive Board will hold a telephone conference today to take its first decisions, which could include provisional measures and sanctions regarding the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month.
The move comes after the release of a report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren that says Russia used a complex state-supported doping scheme at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
McLaren found that Russia's secret service and top sports ministry officials - as well as those responsible for preparing Russian athletes - made some positive samples vanish and switched clean samples for doping-tainted ones at other times during the Winter Games in Russia. It comes just a fortnight before the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics.
Last week, Bach indicated that a total ban on Russia competing in Rio was unlikely, saying: "It is obvious you cannot sanction a badminton player for an infringement of the rules by an official or a lab director at the Winter Games." However, in the light of the report, with a wide group of sports bodies now calling for a blanket ban, a broad sanction could now be on the cards.
Wada has already called for Russia to be banned from the Olympics and urged global sports governing bodies to bar Russia until "culture change" is achieved.
Russia's track and field athletes are already banned, as are its weightlifters, subject to confirmation of positive dope tests from samples given in 2008 and 2012. - Wire Services
Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated.
— IOC President Thomas Bach
- The surprise result of the Sochi investigation was the revelation of the extent of state oversight and directed control of the Moscow laboratory in processing, and covering up urine samples of Russian athletes from virtually all sports before and after the Sochi Games.
- The Moscow laboratory operated, for the protection of doped Russian athletes, within a state-dictated failsafe system, described in the report as the Disappearing Positive Methodology.
- The Sochi Laboratory operated a unique sample swopping methodology to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Games.
- The Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athlete's analytical results or sample swopping, with the active participation and assistance of the FSB (Russian secret service), CSP, and both Moscow and Sochi Laboratories.
- The Moscow laboratory personnel did not have a choice in whether to be involved in the State directed system.
- The State implemented a simple failsafe strategy. If all the operational precautions to promote and permit doping by Russian athletes proved to have been ineffective for whatever reason, the laboratory provided a failsafe mechanism.
- The State had the ability to transform a positive analytical result into a negative one by ordering that the analytical process of the Moscow Laboratory be altered. The Ministry of Sport, RUSADA and the Russian Federal Security Service (the FSB) were all involved in this operation.
- After the completion of the (2013) Moscow (world athletics) championships, the laboratory held a number of positive samples that needed to be swopped by removing the cap and replacing the athlete's dirty urine before the samples were shipped to another laboratory as instructed by the IAAF.
- The investigation has established the Findings set out in this Report beyond a reasonable doubt.
DAY: We've got enough money
World No. 1 Jason Day has hit back at critics of the golfers who have elected to skip the Rio de Janeiro Olympics from Aug 5 to 21.
Golf's return to the Olympics for the first time since 1904 has been soured by the withdrawals of a number of top men's players, many of whom have cited health concerns due to the outbreak of the Zika virus in Brazil.
Rio Games chief Carlos Nuzman told a media event in Rio over the weekend that top players had "tried to blame Zika, but the media have shown that they are not coming because there's no prize money".
International Golf Federation president Peter Dawson also said there had been an "over-reaction" to the threat of Zika, a mosquito-borne virus that can cause potentially severe birth defects in babies whose mothers were infected during pregnancy.
Day (above), who withdrew last month and cited Zika as his main concern, hit back at suggestions that the lack of prize money was behind the withdrawals.
"I mean, we've got enough money, you know what I mean," Day told Australian reporters, after signing off from the British Open on Sunday.
"And I don't mean to make that sound in a bad way. It's not like we're chasing it because of that.
"We play the Presidents Cup, there's no prize money. You go down there to (Rio) win a gold medal.
"That's probably one of the biggest honours you could get as a sporting athlete.
"Unfortunately, if it was Tokyo this year, I'd be there in a heartbeat. I wouldn't worry about it. It's unfortunate."
The fact that the women's field at the Olympics will be packed with all the leading players has made the decision by the top male golfers even more dubious.
Day's compatriot, world No. 8 Adam Scott, was among the first to opt out but put it down to a packed schedule and his lack of interest in playing another 72-hole individual strokeplay tournament.
He said Nuzman's assertion was "not accurate".
"I don't know where he would get that idea. That's just assumptions and I think they've made a lot - and obviously that's dangerous. I mean, I made my decision based on my priorities and where my life's at at the moment."
The flood of withdrawals, which have included the world's top four players and a number of other Major winners, has fanned fears golf's return to the Olympics may be a brief one. The sport is confirmed for the 2020 Tokyo Games but its future participation will be subject to an International Olympic Committee vote. - Reuters.
Ratchanok in the clear for Rio
World No. 4 Ratchanok Intanon has been cleared of an anti-doping violation, the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said in a statement yesterday, paving the way for the Thai medal hope to compete at the Rio Olympics.
Ratchanok had been given a provisional suspension on July 13 after reports emerged that she had failed a dope test during the Uber Cup tournament in China in May.
A hearing process by badminton's governing body began, following Ratchanok's suspension.
"The Panel concluded that ... no violation of the regulations was committed," the BWF said, in a statement.
Badminton's governing body lifted the suspension, allowing Ratchanok to take part in competitions with immediate effect.
At a news conference in Bangkok yesterday, Ratchanok said she was happy to have been proven innocent.
"I didn't do anything wrong and I am confident in the decision of the BWF. I'm happy I received justice," Ratchanok told reporters.
"I will focus on training in order to bring success to the Thai people."
Ratchanok's team had said she received an injection during the China tournament in May to treat a knee injury and that could have been the reason for her sample initially testing positive.
The 21-year-old will be among Thailand's main medal hopes in Rio and one of the chief threats to China's chances of retaining their sweep of all five badminton titles at the London Games.
The daughter of factory workers at a Bangkok sweet-maker, the former world champion hopes winning gold at the Rio Olympics might inspire more Thai girls to chase their dreams. - Reuters.
I didn’t do anything wrong and I am confident in the decision of the BWF. I’m happy I received justice. I will focus on training in order to bring success to the Thai people.
— Ratchanok Intanon (above)