In news that will shock very few people who have been following global sports for the last decade, Russia might have committed even more doping violations than previously believed.
Yuri Ganus, the director general of Russia’s anti-doping agency, said at a conference in Colorado on Sunday that the country has made thousands of changes to drug test results for an unspecified number of athletes, according to The New York Times. Ganus reportedly suggested that data had been concealed or altered to protect the reputations of former star athletes with current jobs in the Russian government and sports administration.
Ganus reportedly said he believes only a powerful Russian institution has the power to manipulate the data in question.
Given what happened to Russia in the last Olympics and where the country currently finds itself in the international sports scene, such an admission could carry significant implications.
Could latest admission cost Russia another Olympics?
Per the Times, a World Anti-Doping Agency committee is scheduled to decide Oct. 23 on whether to press for more serious bans against Russian sports federations. Russia reportedly faces expulsion from international sports, which could put them into the same position they were in when the country was banned from the 2018 Olympics for a doping program that made a mockery of the Sochi Games.
In that situation, 168 Russian athletes were still allowed to compete in the 2018 Olympics under the designation of Olympic Athletes from Russia. Despite that pool of athletes supposedly being clean, two still tested positive for banned substances.
The decision reportedly depends on whether Russian authorities can provide an explanation for missing or manipulated test results in a database turned over to WADA. Given what one of its top anti-doping officials is publicly saying, that may be a difficult proposition.
If Russia is designated “noncompliant,” a case would reportedly be fast-tracked to the international Court of Arbitration for Sport. A negative ruling for Russia there would trigger an automatic suspension for the country in a “wide range of sports.” That could mean no Olympics for Russia in 2020, and possibly even risk the team’s ability to qualify for the 2022 World Cup.
‘It’s really dangerous for me’
Speaking out on a matter as internationally damaging as this is obviously a dangerous act in Russia, something Ganus said he’s aware of.
From the Times:
“It’s really dangerous for me,” he said. But Ganus said he was driven to complete what he described as “the mission” to assure that a new generation of Russian athletes could return, untainted, to international sports.
“Russia is a high-level sports country, but those people who are responsible to solve this situation for many years chose the wrong way, the wrong approach,” he said.
Ganus reportedly added that he believes Russian authorities were monitoring his phone calls and electronic communications, while also watching his home.
There are also reportedly suspicions that Ganus was given permission to speak out as it would separate Russia’s anti-doping agency from culpability for the changes to the database. Whoever is ultimately responsible, the political intrigue in Russian sports goes on.
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