Last December, a German public broadcaster released a documentary that alleged widespread doping in Russian athletics; VICE Sports' Brian Blickenstaff called it "the sports documentary equivalent of an atomic bomb." In response, the World Anti-Doping Agency launched an investigation, which would eventually confirm many of the allegations in the film.
Today, WADA released a 323-page report detailing the investigation and its findings that Russian athletes and the Russian government engaged in a widespread doping programme, destroyed positive tests, and obstructed inquiries into those claims. The report does not find any written evidence of government interference in the testing process, but stated that it would "be naive in the extreme to conclude that activities on the scale discovered could have occurred without the explicit or tacit approval of Russian governmental authorities."
The investigation centres around a shadowy lab, the Laboratory of the Moscow Committee of Sport for Identification for Prohibited Substances in Athlete Samples, in an industrial zone just six miles outside of Moscow. The report found that it was virtually impossible for the lab to act independently due to government interference, including from Russia's Federal Security Service.
One witness told the inquiry that "in Sochi, we had some guys pretending to be engineers in the lab but actually they were from the federal security service."
The inquiry says this was part of a wider pattern of "direct intimidation and interference by the Russian state with the Moscow laboratory operations."
Staff at the Moscow lab believed their offices were bugged by the FSB.
An FSB agent, thought to be Evgeniy Blotkin or Blokhin, regularly visited.
Athletes were also being extorted by the lab to cover up positive tests. WADA recommended that the lab have its accreditation stripped, and that lab director Grigory Rodchenko be fired.
The report says Rodchenko is "an aider and abettor of the doping activities" and "at the heart of the positive drug test cover-up."
Rodchenko was key to "the conspiracy to extort money from athletes in order to cover up positive doping test results."
In one case, he was paid indirectly by an athlete, who turned whistleblower, to hide a failed doping test. The cash courier was "a known performance-enhancing substances trafficker."
The same lab—which seems to operate as a dummy lab to screen samples before they are sent to a recognised lab—oversaw the testing for the Sochi Olympics and is set to handle the 2018 World Cup, as well. The report concluded that the London Olympics were "sabotaged" by allowing Russian athletes to participate and an "inexplicable laissez-faire attitude toward anti-doping by the IAAF and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency." The gold and bronze medalists in the 800 meters at London, Mariya Savinova-Farnosova and Ekaterina Poistogova, respectively, were listed among the five Russian athletes for whom lifetime bans have been recommended.
WADA found that Russian Sports Minister and leader of the 2018 World Cup organising committee, Vitaly Mutko, was directly involved in the scheme and gave express orders to "manipulate particular samples." Mutko denied the allegations and said he was "disgusted" with the whistle-blowers who set off the investigation.
You can read the whole report below.