Russian Olympic Committee backs athletes in wake of WADA doping report
Moscow, July 19 (IANS) The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) on Tuesday rejected a possible ban on all Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics following a damning report from World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) experts.
WADA's independent commission, led by Richard McLaren, a Canadian law professor, released on Monday a report that said the Russian Ministry of Sport manipulated test results to cover up the use of performance-enhancing drugs by the country's athletes, reports Efe.
The ROC "wholeheartedly" disagreed with McLaren, the committee said in a statement.
McLaren had called a blanket ban on Russian athletes from the Rio Games an "unpleasant consequence" of the charges laid out in his report.
The report said that the Russian Ministry of Sport, in collusion with the Federal Security Service (FSB, former KGB), had enabled its Winter Olympics athletes to cheat anti-doping tests by swapping tainted urine samples with clean ones.
The ROC said that the charges put forward in the McLaren report were "so serious as to require a full investigation with the participation of all parties involved."
The body added that it was "ready to provide full assistance" in the zero-tolerance fight against doping, and "communicate, where appropriate, with any international organisations."
The committee also questioned the fact that the charges had been built solely on the statements of Grigory Rochenkov, the former head of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory who spoke out about the state-dictated plot in an interview with the "New York Times" in May.
The charges, according to the ROC, are "only based on testimony from a person located at the centre of the criminal scheme he created", which "endangers not only the career and the fate of many honest athletes, but also the integrity of the international Olympic movement."
The executive board of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is set to meet on Tuesday via teleconference to study possible sanctions for Russia following the McLaren report's findings.
"Those who throughout their careers, thanks to persistent training, talent and willpower strive to realise their Olympic dream, do not have to depend on unfounded, unsubstantiated accusations and criminal acts of individuals," the ROC's statement said.
The investigation results were a shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games, IOC president Thomas Bach said on Monday.
"Therefore, the IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organisation implicated," Bach added.