By Karolos Grohmann
(Reuters) – Several anti-doping agencies, including those of the United States and Canada, want a complete ban on Russia competing at the Rio Olympics if next week’s key report into allegations of state-backed doping at the 2014 Sochi winter Olympics is damning, they said on Saturday.
Russia’s track and field athletes are already banned from competing at next month’s Olympics by the world governing International Association of Athletics’ Federations (IAAF) over widespread doping in the sport.
In a leaked draft letter addressed to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which will be sent once the report into Sochi led by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren is presented on Monday, United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart calls for a ban on all Russian athletes, not just in track and field.
“We write on behalf of a community of clean athletes and anti-doping organizations with faith that the IOC can lead the way forward by upholding the principles of Olympics,” said the draft letter signed by Tygart and Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sports (CCES) CEO Paul Melia.
“Therefore, consistent with the Principles, Charter and Code we request that the IOC Executive Board take the action to suspend the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committee from participating in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
“The only appropriate, and permissible, course of action in these unprecedented circumstances is for the IOC to immediately suspend the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committees from the Olympic Movement…. and declare that no athlete can represent Russia at the Rio Olympic Games.”
CCES chief Melia said the draft letter was backed by other anti-doping agencies.
“A global group that includes various athletes committees and anti-doping organizations, including those of the United States, Germany, Japan and New Zealand, are preparing for the McLaren report,” Melia told Reuters.
“If the McLaren report produces clear and convincing evidence of state-sponsored doping in sport in Russia, they are prepared to call on the IOC to ban the Russian Olympic Committee from the Games in Rio.”
Tygart, in a statement emailed to Reuters when asked about the draft letter, said: “We always want universal inclusion at the Olympic Games, but we can’t be blind to the evidence before us, and if we — as those who cherish the Olympic values — are not preparing for all potential outcomes, then we are not fulfilling our promise to clean athletes.”
The draft letter has also been circulated to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Athlete Committee members by Canada’s Beckie Scott, who chairs the committee, asking whether they agree to support it.
“The letter outlines a basis for suspension of the Russian NOC (National Olympic Committee) from Rio, in light of the evidence and information that will come as a result of this report, and aligns very much with the position we have taken so far in this (long) process,” Scott wrote in an email dated July 16.
IOC President Thomas Bach said last month that individual Russian track and field athletes assessed as clean would be able to compete for their country in Brazil.
“My concern is that there seems to have been an attempt to agree an outcome before any evidence has been presented,” IOC Executive Board member Patrick Hickey said.
“Such interference and calls ahead of the McLaren Report publication are totally against internationally recognized fair legal process and may have completely undermined the integrity and therefore the credibility of this important report.”
WADA set up an investigation under McLaren to probe allegations of state-backed doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Ken Ferris and Martyn Herman and Andrew Both)