Russian athletics doping row could spread to other sports

Wed Nov 11, 2015 9:00am EST
 
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By Jack Stubbs and Christian Lowe

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The international investigation into alleged drug cheating inside Russian athletics could draw in other Russian sports since they used the same laboratory that now stands accused of covering up failed drugs tests.

In a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), investigators described a state-sponsored drugs culture in Russian athletics. "There is no reason to believe that athletics is the only sport in Russia to have been affected," it said while acknowledging its own remit was limited to athletics.

The allegations of drug-taking in athletics - and the prospect Russian athletes could be barred from the Rio Olympics next year as a consequence - is already the biggest sporting scandal to hit Russia for several decades.

But if the affair snowballs to include other sports, including some that are hugely popular, it could cut even deeper into Russian pride which in the past few years has been riding high after a run of sporting successes.

A large part of the allegations in the 323-page report centers around a laboratory in Moscow which processed blood and urine samples from Russian athletes on behalf of the athletics federation, and tested them for banned performance enhancing drugs.

The report alleged that the laboratory destroyed samples despite being told by WADA to preserve them, and that its staff took bribes from athletes or their coaches in exchange for covering up drugs tests that showed up positive. Russian authorities said WADA itself asked them to destroy them.

The Kremlin has dismissed the doping allegations as groundless, while sporting chiefs alleged the international furor over doping was politically motivated.

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A sportsman casts a shadow on a race track while training at a local stadium in the southern city of Stavropol, Russia, November 10, 2015.  REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko