In January 2015, then-All-Russia Athletic Federation President Valentin Balakhnichev resigned as treasurer of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
led the 2015 WADA investigation and became a vocal critic of the IOC's indecision
In response to the ARD documentary, WADA commissioned an investigation headed by former anti-doping agency President Dick Pound, the report of which was published on 9 November 2015. The 335-page document, described as "damning" by The Guardian, reported widespread doping and large-scale cover-ups by the Russian authorities. It stated that the Federal Security Service (FSB) had regularly visited and questioned laboratory staff and instructed some of them not to cooperate with the WADA investigation.:196–197 Two staff members said that they suspected that the offices and telephones were bugged.:196–197 The report recommended that ARAF be declared non-compliant with respect to the World Anti-Doping Code and that the IOC should not accept any 2016 Summer Olympics entries from ARAF until compliance was reached.
A day later, WADA suspended the Moscow Anti-doping Center, prohibiting the laboratory "from carrying out any WADA-related anti-doping activities including all analyses of urine and blood samples." On 13 November, the IAAF council voted 22–1 in favour of prohibiting Russia from world track and field events with immediate effect. Under other penalties against the ARAF, Russia has been also prohibited from hosting the 2016 World Race Walking Team Championships (Cheboksary) and 2016 World Junior Championships (Kazan), and ARAF must entrust doping cases to Court of Arbitration for Sport. ARAF accepted the indefinite IAAF suspension and did not request a hearing. ARAF's efforts towards regaining full IAAF membership will be monitored by a five-person IAAF team. On 18 November 2015 WADA suspended RUSADA, meaning that Russia does not have a functioning NADO for any sport.
In November 2015, France began a criminal investigation into former IAAF president Lamine Diack, alleging that in 2011 he accepted a 1 million euro bribe from the ARAF to cover up positive doping results of at least six Russian athletes.
January to May 2016
In January 2016, the IAAF gave lifetime bans to the former head of the Russian athletics federation, Valentin Balakhnichev, and a top Russian coach, Aleksey Melnikov.
In mid-January, WADA released the second report by its independent commission. The following month, the United Kingdom Anti-Doping (UKAD) agency was tasked to oversee testing in Russia.
Two former directors of RUSADA, Vyacheslav Sinev and Nikita Kamaev, both died unexpectedly in February 2016. The Sunday Times reported that Kamaev had approached the newspaper shortly before his death planning to publish a book on "the true story of sport pharmacology and doping in Russia since 1987". Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of a prominent laboratory who has been described by WADA as "the heart of Russian doping", was fired by Russian authorities and fled in fear of his safety to the United States, where he shared information with the help of filmmaker Bryan Fogel, which was documented in the film Icarus.
In March 2016, German broadcaster ARD aired a documentary called "Russia's Red Herrings", alleging that athletes were alerted about testing plans and offered banned substances by individuals at RUSADA and ARAF. According to a May 2016 report in The New York Times, whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov said that doping experts collaborated with Russia's intelligence service on a state-sponsored doping programme in which urine samples were switched through a hole in the laboratory's wall. He said that at least fifteen medalists at the 2014 Winter Olympics were involved. On 19 May, WADA appointed Richard McLaren to lead an investigation into the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
An ARD documentary in June 2016 implicated Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko in covering up doping by a football player at FK Krasnodar. In the same month, IAAF deputy general secretary Nick Davies was provisionally suspended over allegations that he took money to delay naming Russian athletes. According to the BBC, emails from July 2013 showed that Davies had discussed how to delay or soften an announcement on Russians who had tested positive.
In June 2016, WADA released a report stating that the work of its Doping Control Officers (DCO) had been limited by a "significant amount of unavailable athlete reports and missed tests", insufficient or incorrect athlete location information, and little information about the location or date of competitions. Some athletes named military cities requiring special permission to enter as their location and some national championships, including Olympic qualifiers, were held in cities with restricted access due to civil conflicts, preventing testing of the competitors. WADA also reported intimidation of DCOs by armed Federal Security Service (FSB) agents; "significant delays" before being allowed to enter venues; consistent monitoring by security staff; delays in receiving athlete lists; and opening of sample packages by Russian customs. 90% of Russian athletes did not respond or "emphatically" refused when WADA requested to interview them as part of its investigation. Director general David Howman stated, "It was the very right time for those who considered themselves clean [to approach WADA]. They had nine months, plenty of time, and none came forward."
On 17 June, the IAAF Council held an extraordinary meeting "principally to give the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) a further opportunity to satisfy the Reinstatement Conditions for IAAF Membership." A task force chaired by
Rune Andersen recommended against reinstating Russia after reporting that criteria had not been met and that there were "detailed allegations, which are already partly substantiated, that the Russian authorities, far from supporting the anti-doping effort, have in fact orchestrated systematic doping and the covering up of adverse analytical findings." The IAAF voted unanimously to uphold its ban.
A week later, the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) decided to give a one-year ban to Russia, along with two other countries; on 3 August 2016 the IOC ratified the decision, and Russia's weightlifting team missed the 2016 Summer Olympics.
On 18 July 2016, Richard McLaren, a Canadian attorney retained by WADA to investigate Rodchenkov's allegations, published a 97-page report covering significant state-sponsored doping in Russia. Although limited by a 57-day time frame, the investigation found corroborating evidence after conducting witness interviews, reviewing thousands of documents, analysis of hard drives, forensic analysis of urine sample collection bottles, and laboratory analysis of individual athlete samples, with "more evidence becoming available by the day.":5 The report concluded that it was shown "beyond a reasonable doubt" that Russia's Ministry of Sport, the Centre of Sports Preparation of the National Teams of Russia, the Federal Security Service (FSB), and the WADA-accredited laboratory in Moscow had "operated for the protection of doped Russian athletes" within a "state-directed failsafe system" using "the disappearing positive [test] methodology" after the country's poor medal count during the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. McLaren stated that urine samples were opened in Sochi in order to swap them "without any evidence to the untrained eye". The official producer of BEREG-KIT security bottles used for anti-doping tests, Berlinger Group, stated, "We have no knowledge of the specifications, the methods or the procedures involved in the tests and experiments conducted by the McLaren Commission."
According to the McLaren report, the Disappearing Positive Methodology operated from "at least late 2011 to August 2015.":35 It was used on 643 positive samples, a number that the authors consider "only a minimum" due to limited access to Russian records.:39 The system covered up positive results in a wide range of sports::41
- Athletics (139)
- Weightlifting (117)
- Non-Olympic sports (37)
- Paralympic sport (35)
- Wrestling (28)
- Canoe (27)
- Cycling (26)
- Skating (24)
- Swimming (18)
- Ice hockey (14)
- Skiing (13)
- Football (11)
- Rowing (11)
- Biathlon (10)
- Bobsleigh (8)
- Judo (8)
- Volleyball (8)
- Boxing (7)
- Handball (7)
- Taekwondo (6)
- Fencing (4)
- Triathlon (4)
- Modern pentathlon (3)
- Shooting (3)
- Beach volleyball (2)
- Curling (2)
- Basketball (1)
- Sailing (1)
- Snowboard (1)
- Table tennis (1)
- Water polo (1)
In response to these findings, WADA announced that RUSADA should be regarded as non-compliant with respect to the World Anti-Doping Code and recommended that Russian athletes be banned from competing at the 2016 Summer Olympics. The IOC decided to decline 2016 Summer Olympics accreditation requests by Russian sports ministry officials and any individuals implicated in the report, to begin re-analysis and a full inquiry into Russian competitors at the Sochi Olympics, and to ask sports federations to seek alternative hosts for major events that had been assigned to Russia.
On 21 July 2016, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) turned down an appeal by the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes. The following day, the International Paralympic Committee began suspension proceedings against the National Paralympic Committee of Russia. On 24 July, the IOC rejected WADA's recommendation to ban Russia from the Summer Olympics and announced that a decision would be made by each sport federation. With each positive decision having to be approved by a CAS arbitrator. WADA's president Craig Reedie said, "WADA is disappointed that the IOC did not heed WADA's Executive Committee recommendations that were based on the outcomes of the McLaren Investigation and would have ensured a straight-forward, strong and harmonized approach." On the IOC's decision to exclude Stepanova, WADA director general Olivier Niggli stated that his agency was "very concerned by the message that this sends whistleblowers for the future."
On 30 July 2016 the IOC announced that a final decision on each athlete would be made by a newly established IOC panel consisting of Ugur Erdener, Claudia Bokel, and Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr.
August to September 2016
Originally Russia submitted a list of 389 athletes for the Rio Olympics competition. On 7 August 2016, the IOC cleared 278 athletes, while 111 were removed because of the scandal (including 67 athletes removed by IAAF before the IOC's decision).
Critics noted that Kuwaitis were banned from competing under their own flag (for a non-doping related matter) while Russians were permitted to do so. Due to governmental interference, Kuwaiti competitors were permitted to enter only as independent athletes. Dick Pound stated, "It is not a consistent standard which is being applied now. Not all Kuwait athletes banned from competing in Rio under their own flag were supporters of the regime, and not all South African athletes were supporters of apartheid, but the greater good called for South Africa to be expelled." Germany's Deutsche Welle wrote of "troublesome questions, like why Kuwait's Olympic federation faced a ban from Rio, while Russia's did not. Kuwait's tiny team [...] was suspended because of improper political conduct by the government; Russia's was not, after systematically organizing a doping program for many of its competitors."
Having sent samples for forensic analysis, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) found evidence that the Disappearing Positive Methodology was in operation at the 2014 Winter Paralympics in Sochi. On 7 August 2016, the IPC's Governing Board voted unanimously to ban the entire Russian team from the 2016 Summer Paralympics, citing the Russian Paralympic Committee's (RPC) inability to enforce the IPC's Anti-Doping Code and the World Anti-Doping Code, which is "a fundamental constitutional requirement". IPC President Sir Philip Craven described the Russian anti-doping system as "entirely compromised" and 18 July 2016 as "one of the darkest days in the history of all sport", and stated that the Russian government had "catastrophically failed its Para athletes". IPC Athletes' Council Chairperson Todd Nicholson said that Russia had used athletes as "pawns" in order to "show global prowess". On 23 August 2016, the Court of Arbitration for Sport dismissed Russia's appeal, stating that the IPC's decision was "made in accordance with the IPC Rules and was proportionate in the circumstances" and that Russia "did not file any evidence contradicting the facts on which the IPC decision was based." The Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland rejected another appeal by Russia, saying that the RPC "needed to demonstrate it had fulfilled its obligations in upholding... anti-doping protocols, and that its interests in an immediate lifting of its suspension outweigh the International Paralympics Committee's interests in fighting doping and in the integrity of athletics. It did not succeed in this in any way." Rejecting an appeal by ten athletes, a German court stated that the IPC had no obligation to allow them to compete and that the committee had "comprehensibly justified" its decision.
In an interview with NRK, WADA's director general Olivier Niggli said that "Russia is threatening us and our informers", mentioning daily hacking attempts and bugging of houses. He said that the agency had "a pretty good suspicion" that the hackers were Russian and that Western governments were already familiar with them. He stated, "I think this will cease if they stop looking at us as an enemy, and instead accept that there is a problem that we must work together to solve. But for the moment they are sending out completely the wrong signals."
October to December 2016
In October 2016, Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko was promoted to deputy prime minister amid allegations that Mutko had covered up a doping violation.
On 3 November 2016, Russia approved an anti-doping law targeting coaches.
On 15 November 2016, Berlinger introduced a new design for doping sample bottles. A spokesman later said, "We work with forensic specialists from different nations. We want to always stay a little bit ahead of those cheating but you cannot avoid a system like the Russians built up."
On 7 December 2016, Yelena Isinbayeva became the chair of the supervisory board of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency.
On 9 December 2016, McLaren published the second part of his report. From 2011 to 2015, more than 1,000 Russian competitors in various sports (including summer, winter, and Paralympic sports) benefited from the cover-up. Emails indicate that they included five blind powerlifters, who may have been given drugs without their knowledge, and a fifteen-year-old. An IAAF taskforce announced that Russia could not be reinstated because the country still had no functional drug-testing agency and had not accepted the findings of investigations.
January to October 2017
In February 2017, All-Russia Athletic Federation vice-president Andrey Silnov held a press conference in Moscow alongside a former Soviet athlete who said that East German successes due to state-sponsored doping are legitimate results of "good pharmacology" and should not be condemned. Later that month, WADA stated that evidence against many individuals named in the McLaren report might be insufficient because the Moscow laboratory had disposed of doping samples and Russian authorities were not answering requests for additional evidence.
An IAAF taskforce chaired by Rune Andersen published an interim report in April 2017. President Sebastian Coe stated, "There is testing but it is still far too limited. The Russian investigative committee is still refusing to hand over athlete biological passport samples for independent testing from labs, we still have got athletes in closed cities that are difficult or impossible to get to, the ongoing employment of coaches from a tainted system, and we have got the head coach of RUSAF effectively refusing to sign their own pledge to clean athletics." The report also noted the case of whistleblower Andrei Dmitriev, who had fled Russia after being threatened with imprisonment. Coe said, "Anyone with information about a system which has failed to protect the goals and aspirations of clean athletes must feel it is safe to speak out." Andersen questioned the selection of Yelena Isinbayeva, who had called for whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova to be "banned for life", as the chair of RUSADA's supervisory board. Andersen stated, "It is difficult to see how this helps to achieve the desired change in culture in track and field, or how it helps to promote an open environment for Russian whistleblowers", noting that Isinbayeva had called a WADA report "groundless" without reading it, publicly criticised whistleblowers (Dmitriev and the Stepanovs), and had not signed a pledge for clean sport or endorsed a Russian anti-doping group.
In September 2017, WADA rejected Russia's claims that WADA should be held responsible for Rodchenkov, noting that Russia had chosen to appoint him as head of the Moscow laboratory. The organisation also stated, "WADA would expect the Russian authorities to take responsibility for this deliberate system of cheating that was uncovered by the McLaren Investigation – as is stipulated within RUSADA's Roadmap to Compliance – rather than continually shifting the blame onto others." Seventeen national anti-doping organisations criticised the IOC for a "continuing refusal to hold Russia accountable for one of the biggest doping scandals in sports history" and "dereliction of duty [sending] a cynical message that those of favored, insider nations within the Olympic Movement will never be punished or held accountable". They stated that cases had been "shut prematurely before the IOC or IFs have obtained complete evidence from the Moscow laboratory or interviewed the relevant witnesses." An additional 20 NADOs have signed on.
November to December 2017
In November 2017, the IOC disciplinary commission headed by Denis Oswald imposed its first sanctions after a year-long Sochi investigation. As of 22 December 2017, 43 Russian athletes had been sanctioned and 13 medals had been stripped.
On 10 November 2017, the day after Vladimir Putin accused the U.S. of stirring up problems for Russian athletes, WADA said in a news release that it had obtained an electronic file that contained "all testing data" from January 2012 to August 2015 – thousands of drug screenings run on Russian athletes. The database, which the Russian authorities were unwilling to share with antidoping investigators, arrived through a whistleblower. The head of the Russian Ski Association, Yelena Välbe, told the press that "whistleblowers are traitors to their country" shortly thereafter. Russia's ski team coach went even further and accused Ilia Chernousov (a skier who won a bronze medal in the 50 km freestyle event) of "leaking information" to WADA.
On 11 November 2017, it was revealed that Grigory Rodchenkov had provided new evidence of Russian state-sponsored doping to the IOC, noting that he would consider going public if the Schmid Commission did not give due weight to his evidence in any public findings.
On 16 November 2017, WADA announced that Russia remained non-compliant with its Code. On 26 November 2017, IAAF decided to maintain Russia's ban from international track and field competitions, saying the country had not done enough to tackle doping.
In an interview with the New York Times, Rodchenkov reported that Yuri Nagornykh, the deputy minister of sport, had asked him to incriminate a Ukrainian athlete, Vita Semerenko, during a competition in Moscow leading up to the Olympics. Rodchenkov did not comply, convincing the minister that a retest of the drug sample would show the drugs had been spiked into the sample rather than passed through a human body. "I could not have done this to an innocent athlete," he said. "During my career, I reported many Dirty Samples as clean, but never the other way around."
On 5 December 2017, the IOC announced that the Russian Olympic Committee had been suspended with immediate effect from the 2018 Winter Olympics, but their concession was to allow those Russian athletes with no previous drug violations and a consistent history of drug testing to compete under the Olympic Flag as an "Olympic Athlete from Russia" (OAR). Under the terms of the IOC's edict, no Russian government officials were permitted to attend the Games, and neither the Russian flag nor the Russian national anthem would be featured; the Olympic Flag and Olympic Anthem were to be used instead. On 20 December 2017 the IOC proposed an alternative logo for the OAR athletes' uniforms (shown on right). IOC President Thomas Bach said that "after following due process [the IOC] has issued proportional sanctions for this systematic manipulation while protecting the clean athletes."
As of January 2018, the IOC had identified 43 Russian athletes from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi that it intended to ban from competing in the 2018 Winter Olympics and all other future Olympic Games as part of the Oswald Commission. All but one of those athletes appealed against their bans to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). The court overturned the sanctions on 28 of the appellants, resulting in their Sochi medals and results being reinstated, but the court ruled that there was sufficient evidence against eleven of the athletes to uphold their Sochi sanctions. The IOC issued a statement saying "the result of the CAS decision does not mean that athletes from the group of 28 will be invited to the Games. Not being sanctioned does not automatically confer the privilege of an invitation" and that "this [case] may have a serious impact on the future fight against doping". The IOC found it imperative to point out that the CAS Secretary General "insisted that the CAS decision does not mean that these 28 athletes are innocent" and that they would consider an appeal against the court's decision. The court also downgraded the punishment by deciding that the 39 athletes should only be banned from the 2018 Games, not all future Olympic Games. Note that the remaining three Russian athletes are still awaiting their hearings which will be conducted after the 2018 Games. After the partially successful appeal, 47 Russian athletes and coaches launched a further appeal to the CAS, in a final attempt to secure an invitation to the Games. This appeal was dismissed on 9 February 2018, the day of the opening ceremony, a decision that was welcomed by the IOC.
An original pool of 500 Russian athletes was put forward for consideration for the 2018 Games and 111 of those athletes were immediately eliminated from the pool; this included the 43 athletes who had been sanctioned by the Oswald Commission. The remaining 389 athletes were required to meet a number of pre-games conditions, such as a further round of tests and re-analysis of stored samples, and they would only be considered for invitation to the Games providing these requirements were met. The final number of neutral Russian athletes that were invited to compete was 169. However, speed skater Olga Graf chose not to compete, stating that "the sport has become a bargaining chip in dirty political games", bringing the eventual total to 168.
Reaction in Russia
In the past, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and other government officials had stated that it would be a humiliation for Russia if its athletes were not allowed to compete at the Olympics under the Russian flag. However, despite rumours to the contrary, his spokesman Dmitry Peskov later revealed that no boycott had been discussed leading up to the IOC's announcement. After the IOC decision was made public, Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of Chechnya, announced that no Chechen athletes would be allowed to compete under a neutral flag. On 6 December 2017, Putin confirmed that the Russian government would not prevent any of its athletes from participating at the 2018 Games as individuals, despite there being calls from other leading Russian politicians for a boycott. Gennady Zyuganov, leader of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, put forward a proposal to send fans to the Games with a Soviet Victory Banner. Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, commented that the United States "fears honest competition", affirming Vladimir Putin's position that the United States used its influence within the IOC to "orchestrate the doping scandal". According to Komsomolskaya Pravda, a popular Russian tabloid newspaper, 86% of the Russian population opposed participation in the Winter Olympics under a neutral flag. Many Russians believed that the IOC was retaliating against Russia for their discriminatory anti-gay law which provoked considerable controversy with the IOC during the 2014 Winter Olympics when it was hosted in Sochi, Russia.
The IOC's decision was heavily criticized by Jack Robertson, primary investigator of the Russian doping program on behalf of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), who said that the IOC had issued "a non-punitive punishment meant to save face while protecting the [IOC's] and Russia's commercial and political interests". He also postulated that Russian whistleblowers provided empirical evidence that "99 percent of [their] national-level teammates were doping." Robertson argued that "[WADA] has discovered that when a Russian athlete [reaches] the national level, he or she [has] no choice in the matter: [it is] either dope, or you're done", and that "There is currently no intelligence I have seen or heard about that indicates the state-sponsored doping program has ceased." It was also reported that Russian officials intensively lobbied US politicians in an apparent attempt to achieve Grigory Rodchenkov's to Russia (he was the main Russian whistleblower).
Justin Peters of Slate magazine wrote that the IOC "ended up with a situation that seemed to negate the entire point of the sanctions against Russia. The IOC did not want there to be a Russian Olympic team at the Pyeongchang Games. And yet the hockey, curling, and figure-skating arenas are full of teams of Russian Olympians... [this is] a half-hearted wrist slap issued by an entity that appears more interested in saving face than in protecting athletes".
The CAS decision to overturn the life bans of 28 Russian athletes and restore their medals met fierce criticism among Olympic officials, including IOC president Thomas Bach who described the decision as "extremely disappointing and surprising". Grigory Rodchenkov's lawyer has stated that "the CAS decision would allow doped athletes to escape without punishment" and also that "[the CAS decision] provides yet another ill-gotten gain for the corrupt Russian doping system generally, and Putin specifically".
On 7 December 2017 it was reported that Russian oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov paid a Russian Olympic athlete millions of rubles in hush money not to reveal Russia’s elaborate doping scheme. Prokhorov had run the
Russian Biathlon Union from 2008 to 2014 and offered legal services to disqualified Russian biathletes.
January to February 2018
In January 2018, it was reported that all leading Russian athletes avoided meeting doping officers and passing anti-doping tests in a track and field competition in Irkutsk.
During the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February 2018, two Russian athletes from the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR) delegation failed doping tests and were disqualified: curler Aleksandr Krushelnitckii who won a bronze medal in the mixed doubles event; and bobsleigh pilot Nadezhda Sergeeva who finished twelfth in the two-woman event. The IOC expressed their disappointment at the positive doping tests and stated that the OAR team would consequently not be allowed to parade under the Russian flag at the closing ceremony.
Despite the two disqualifications, the IOC announced on 28 February that it had chosen to reinstate Russia's Olympic membership, just days after the end of the Winter Games, as no more cases of doping had been found in the delegation. The surprise decision to lift the suspension provoked anger among the international sporting community. The IOC had planned all along to reinstate Russia after the Games provided there were no more failed tests. Their statement read "The suspension of the Russian Olympic Committee is automatically lifted with immediate effect."
In the build up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosted by Russia, lab director and whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov said that he recognised one of Russia's players as a doper in one of his own doping programmes.