Sochi doping allegations could show unprecedented criminality: IOC

Wed May 18, 2016 8:01am EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Allegations of Russian doping at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics would represent a shocking new dimension and an "unprecedented level of criminality", if proven to be true, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said on Wednesday.

Russia is at the heart of the biggest doping scandal in sport, with its track and field athletes suspended as a result of a probe into accusations of widespread doping and their participation at this year's Rio Olympics in doubt.

Citing the former head of Russia's anti-doping agency, the New York Times reported last week that Russian anti-doping experts and members of the intelligence services secretly broke into tamper-proof bottles to replace urine samples tainted by performance-enhancing drugs with clean urine collected earlier.

"If these allegations are true we will hold everybody responsible who is implicated and there are different kinds of actions that are possible," Bach said in a conference call, citing possible bans or fines for athletes up to entire federations being excluded from the Games.

The Kremlin dismissed the allegations Russia ran a sophisticated doping programme at the 2014 Games at the Russian resort as treacherous slander, calling former agency head Grigory Rodchenkov "a turncoat".

The New York Times report was broadly consistent with accusations of the independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission last November of widespread state-sponsored doping in Russia, which led to a ban on the country competing in international athletics competitions.

WADA is now investigating the new allegations over Sochi, while the U.S. Justice Department has opened an investigation into the accusations of state-sponsored doping.

"Should the investigation (into Sochi) prove the allegations true it would represent a shocking new dimension in doping with an, until now, unprecedented level of criminality," Bach said.   Continued...

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach addresses a news conference in Lausanne, Switzerland, March 2, 2016.   REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/Files