On Monday, the World Anti Doping Association (WADA) released a 100-page independent report into widespread doping and concealment methods used by the Russian Olympic team in the lead up to the 2016 games, and during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The investigation, led by Professor Richard H. McLaren, detailed the lengths government officials went to in order to shield athletes from scrutiny while also ensuring their performance was enhanced in an attempt to gain a competitive edge. You can find the full report here, but here are the highlights you need to know.
The findings verified reports that samples were swapped at Sochi.
The 60 Minutes report "Russia’s Dark Secret" aired on May 8 and detailed how athletes were given drugs by Russian coaches prior to the 2014 Sochi games. It also explained prior WADA investigations that outlined how positive tests were erased by high-ranking government officials.
These claims, the 60 Minutes report and the initial WADA investigation were all found to be true.
Not only were samples swapped, but Russian government was involved in all of it.
The report called this a "surprise result" of the investigation. Nobody knew how high the organized doping went in the Russian government.
"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 ("MofS"), RUSDA and the Russian Federal Security Service (the "FSB") were all involved in this operation."
The doping plan began in 2010.
The "Disappearing Positive Methodology" became Russia’s plan to hide positive drug tests when they appeared at the WADA-accredited lab in Moscow. The report finds that this began following the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, when Russia had an embarrassingly low medal count.
With Sochi named the next Olympic host city, a plan was put in place that began with the naming of a new Minister of Sport.
The Deputy Minister of sport served as gatekeeper for positive results.
All positive tests that came from the Moscow laboratory would be reported up to the Deputy Minister who would either label the test "SAVE" or "QUARANTINE." If a SAVE order was given, the result would be falsified in the WADA system and reported as a negative result. "QUARANTINE" would report the athlete in accordance with WADA guidelines.
Russian security personnel developed a technique to tamper with tamper-evident bottles.
The Russian "Disappearing Positive Methodology" worked perfectly when it came to events inside Russia, but it did not account for events where there was international oversight.
To this end, the Russian government developed a way to remove the tops from tamper-evident bottles and replace assumed positive tests with clean urine taken from a large bank the government had on hand.
Urine-swapping went to one remarkable length.
Lab workers, under the auspices of the Russian government, would add table salt to previously frozen clean urine samples after replacing positive tests in Sochi. They did this to ensure the specific gravity of the clean urine matched the average athlete urine in Sochi.
When the plot was uncovered, the Russian lab began destroying urine samples.
Approximately 10,000 samples were being held in December of 2014. After receiving a letter from WADA, some 8,000 samples dating prior to September of 2014 were destroyed.
Over 50 percent of positive tests were converted to negative.
A total of 643 positive tests were reviewed as part of the independent report. Findings showed that a "SAVE" or "QUARANTINE" order was given in 577 of these cases. 312 athletes were given "SAVE" orders and their results falsely reported, while 265 were a "QUARANTINE."
Athletics and Weightlifting had the most disappearing positive results.
The alcohol/steroid cocktails were real.
One of the more bizarre revelations from initial reports was that Russian athletes were given cocktails including their performance enhancing drugs. Literal cocktails.
"Dr. Rodchenkov developed a steroid cocktail optimized to avoid detection. Initially, that cocktail consisted of Oral Turinabol, Oxandrolone and Methasterone. The steroids were dissolved in alcohol (Chivas for the men and Vermouth for the women). The solution was then swished around in the mouth in order to be absorbed by the bucal membrane and then spit out."
The FSB ran undercover operations to swap samples in the middle of the night.
The FSB is the successor to the KGB, and was critical in ensuring samples appeared clean. One agent, Blokhin, posed as a sewage and plumbing employee — gaining him access to the lab after hours. Once inside he would receive the bottles through a mouse hole in the wall and supply the clean urine.
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