It’s Worse Than We Thought: LRC Reacts To WADA Russian Doping Report

November 9, 2015

WADA Independent Commission Report #1 came out today (full report here) focusing on systematic doping in Russia uncovered by a German ARD TV documentary. We highlight the details below which outline how an entire nation’s track and field athletes could systematically dope and, until last year, get away with it.

The report was basically a complete validation of the reporting done by German station ARD led by Hajo Seppelt. Even though we expected much of what we read, our reaction to the report was sort of like watching the Ray Rice video. You expected what you were going to see, and then you were totally shocked when you actually see it all in graphic detail. We at long believed the sport had a huge problem with drugs, and thought the Russians were systematically doping, but when you read how they did it and got away with it, it is sickening and makes you realize it could be done elsewhere.

Article continues below player

Like our coverage from Albuquerque?

Join the Supporters Club today to support independent journalism.

Supporters club members get all the LetsRun content, savings on running shoes, and their support ensures has on-site coverage from the biggest Athletics events in the world. Use code CLUB25 to save 25%. And follow us on social media:

The immediate ramifications for Russia are that its track and field team could soon be suspended from the IAAF and may not be able to compete in the Rio Olympics.

And this is only Part I. Part II, which deals with potential IAAF corruption, may even be more shocking, but that was left out of the independent commission report as the criminal probe of the IAAF continues.

Dick Pound, the former head of WADA, who led the investigative report said he thought new IAAF head and London 2012 Olympics chief Seb Coe could lead the IAAF out of this and he expressed confidence in the tests at Olympic Games. We’re not nearly as confident as Pound, given that the former head of the IAAF, Lamine Diack, has already been arrested on charges of covering up positive doping tests in exchange for bribes. We’ll wait until Part II comes out before we make our final assessment. The sport of athletics can take pride in the fact that they ban athletes for 4 years for doping, not 4 games like the NFL, but none of that means anything if the whole process is for sale.

Seb Coe said over the weekend, “That they were not able to cover up the doping results is testament to the system that the IAAF and Wada [the World Anti-Doping Agency] have jointly put in place.” Sadly, we don’t agree with that statement. Perhaps the scariest part about this whole report is that after reading it, we’re convinced if it wasn’t for Hajo Seppelt, ARD and the whistleblowers, almost none of this would have come out. Track and field would still be pounding itself on its chest for its window dressing anti-doping movement.

The only people who came out of this looking good are the whistleblowers and those who made the documentary for ARD. Thank you for your courage.

Below we give you a CliffsNotes version of some of the key findings from the report. On Tuesday, after we’ve had a little more time to fully digest all 323 pages (yes, we’ve read them all), we’ll put out a longer breakdown and include some of the hidden gems that we found.

Update 11/10/2015: We have a second article now up with more details: LRC The 12 Most Interesting / Important Things From The WADA Report on Russian Doping

You can no longer pretend

You can no longer pretend

For now, here are some of the findings in the report.

  1. At least three Olympic track gold medallists in 2012 – Turkey’s Asli Cakir Alptekin (w1500), Russia’s Mariya Savinova (w800) and Russia’s Sergey Kirdyapkin (m50k racewalk) – were dopers and two of them – Alptekin and Kirdyapkin – definitely shouldn’t have even been at the Games. Eight of the nine abnormal biological passport readings for Turkey’s Asli Cakir Alptekin were recorded before the Olympics but the IAAF didn’t act until after she won gold. In the case of Kirdyapkin, the IAAF told Russia his biological passport was positive in November of 2011 – yet the Russia did nothing until after the Games. 2:18 marathoner and two-time World Marathon Major champ Liliya Shobukhova also shouldn’t have competed at the Games due to her biological passport.
  2. Corruption went high up in Russia – the Russian FSB (CIA) had people in the Moscow lab and Sochi Olympic lab.
  3. The cover up in Russia has continued well into 2015. The head of the Russian lab admits to destroying 1,417 samples in December 2014 after WADA specifically told to preserve them for this investigation.
  4. Athletes in Russia were still doping this spring and summer and thought they could get away with the old way of doing business.
  5. The Moscow anti-doping lab covered doping positives in return for cash payments.
  6. A second “shadow” lab in Moscow, paid for by the city, helped athletes not test positive.
  7. Coaches in Russia actively doped athletes and then at the same time demanded payments so these athletes they were doping did not test positive.
  8. Athletes were tipped off in advance about out-of-competition testing.
  9. Just as we’ve all expected, athletes expected they could compete dirty at the Russian National Championships.
  10. Details on how Olympic 800m champ Mariya Savinova and World Marathon champ Liliya Shobukhova doped.
  11. Athletes jotting down the numbers on their anonymous drug samples, and then getting those numbers to the lab so they wouldn’t test positive. Subsequently if someone wanted to spike a sample we assume the observers could just note the numbers and send them to the lab.
  12. A WADA lab in Switzerland even destroyed samples they were not supposed to, yet we are supposed to believe in WADA’s ability to lead this fight.
  13. Two gold medallists in the racewalk, Valeriy Borchin and Sergey Kirdyapkin continued to compete when they should have been banned.
  14. Olympic silver medallist in the discus (since stripped) Darya Phishalnikova paid her 30,000-ruble ($464) bribe to not test positive, but did end up testing positive and was so pissed that she contacted WADA about the whole scheme in 2012. Sadly nothing came out of her whistleblowing as she eventually retracted the claim. Then ARD aired its documentary and WADA took it more seriously.

Update 11/10/2015: We have a second article now up with more details: LRC The 12 Most Interesting / Important Things From The WADA Report on Russian Doping

Discuss on our messageboard:

Doped Shobukhova Won $1,000,000 from the WMM

Doped Shobukhova won $1,000,000 from the WMM

Full 323-page report here.

Like this article? Subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on social media

The latest running news, sent to your inbox weekly or when urgent news breaks.

You have been subscribed.