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Key Russia findings could cast shadow over Rio

 Agencies |  2016-07-18 22:43:57.0  |  Paris

A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decision on whether to let the Rio doping laboratory reopen could also hamper International Olympic Committee preparations.

“It’s an incredibly important week that could crack the unity built up on doping,” an international sports federation president who is also a senior IOC member told AFP.

A report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren has caused divisions before it is even released in Toronto on Monday with the United States and Canada leading calls for a potential complete ban on Russia from the Rio Games which start on August 5.

McLaren has carried out an independent investigation for WADA of allegations made by former Moscow doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov that even Russian secret services took part in an operation to manipulate Russian doping samples at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The Canadian investigator said in June that the early results of his work had found “credible and verifiable” evidence to back the allegations made to the New York Times by Rodchenkov who is now in hiding in the United States. He is wanted by the Russian authorities who have strongly denied any state role in doping.

Paul Melia, president of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport, which carries out anti-doping efforts in Canada, said countries must be ready to ban Russia completely from Rio if the McLaren report confirms the Rodchenkov allegations.

Melia said in a blog that the report “could paint an unprecedented picture of state-supported corruption and subversion of the anti-doping system” in Russia. “If Monday’s report confirms the Rodchenkov allegations, then the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will have no choice but to ban all Russian athletes from this summer’s Olympic Summer Games in Rio,” Melia wrote. “And it must be the same consequence for the Russian contingent at the Paralympics in September.”

European Olympic Committees president Patrick Hickey said he was “shocked”, however, by US and Canadian efforts to press for a ban before the McLaren report is even released.

Hickey said Beckie Scott, the Canadian chairman of the WADA athletes commission and an IOC member, had sent out an email appeal to back a letter from the US and Canadian anti-doping agencies to IOC president Thomas Bach.

 “This letter calls upon the IOC to instigate a wholesale ban of the Russian Olympic Committee team in Rio 2016,” according to Hickey.

The Rio lab was suspended on June 24 for not meeting international standards and a WADA commission is due to rule this week on whether to give a new permit. 

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