Sochi Olympic Doping Allegations Could Create Athlete And Federation Bans

Allegations of Russia doping at Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics would represent a new level of “unprecedented level of criminality” if proven true, said the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach on Wednesday.

Russia is at the heart of the biggest doping scandal in sports, with its track and field athletes suspended as a result of an investigation into the allegations of widespread doping in 2014 Olympics and whether Russia can participation at this year’s Rio Olympics. Claims suggest Russia had a systematic distribution of performance-enhancing drugs and bribes paid to cover up positive testing of drug usage.

The New York Times reported that dozens of Russian athletes at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, including at least 15 medal winners, were part of the state-run doping program. This program was established to ensure dominance at the Olympic Games.

The director, Grigory Rodchenkov, who ran the laboratory that handled testing for Olympians, said he developed a three-drug cocktail of banned substances that he mixed with liquor and provided to dozens of Russian athletes.

The New York Times reported 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, Russia’s equivalent to the White House, dismissed the allegations as slander.

Nonetheless, the New York Times report was consistent with accusations of the independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission last November. The doping allegations led to Russia being banned from competing in international athletic competitions.

WADA is investigating the new doping allegations over the Sochi Olympics. The United States Justice Department has opened an investigation into the accusations, too.

“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. “I would like to call on those who may have information to come forward to WADA and to come forward today so as to enable WADA then to come to a result which shows the full picture. We can then make a real judgment to which degree these allegations are true.”

The International Olympics Committee said that up to 31 athletes could be banned from the upcoming Rio Olympics following the retesting of urine using newer methods of doping samples from the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

Bach said if any medalist was among those 31, there will not be an automatic reallocation of medals without those athletes being retested first. The names of the athletes will be released in early June, as the International Olympics Committee has ordered the retest of 250 test from London is 2012.

Bach notes that the athletes will have to prove they were clean to compete in the Rio Olympics.

“The results of the WADA investigation will also greatly influence the nature of the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games Rio 2016,” Bach said.

Russia’s Sport Minister says he supports the ban, reported Reuters. However, he feels that the ban should not exclude the Russian athletes who were clean during the Sochi Olympics.

The Kremlin has noted it does not accept the application of United States justice outside Washington’s jurisdiction.

“We treat with a certain skepticism and a certain degree of incomprehension and aversion the cases of extra-territorial application of the jurisdiction of U.S. courts which have become pretty widespread lately,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with journalists when asked about the U.S. doping investigation.

[Photo by Jae C. Hong/AP Images]

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