2016 McLaren Report: A Summary


(Image courtesy of Marc Baibrant, AFP)

This article was originally featured on LetsRun (July 18th, 2016).

This evening, the McLaren report was made available for public reading, namely via the information medium that is Twitter. I had planned on nodding off around midnight, but the sheer gravity and enormity of the findings in this document were too good to pass up. Thus, 2 hours later I find myself sitting here completely flabbergasted. The following notes will indicate beyond any reasonable doubt, that Russia, for at least the last 6 years has been successfully running a nation-wide doping program, advising athletes as to how best avoid doping detection, and in a number of cases, expressly falsifying positive tests of Russian athletes. The scope of this doping is by no means limited. Whilst the report was initially to focus upon doping at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, as research progressed, a number of major championships were involved, including the IAAF World Championships, 2012 London Olympics, 2013 World University Games and the 2012 London Paralympics.

Whilst I understand this does appear word dense, the shock of the report’s claims are well worth the reading (even if you skip selectively to the bold sections!).

WADA Statement and subsequent recommendations (detailed in full at bottom of this article, also): https://www.wada-ama.org/en/media/news/2016-07/wada-statement-independent-investigation-confirms-russian-state-manipulation-of

Richard McLaren – who is he?

–  Law professor at Western University, Canada; CEO of McLaren Global Sport Solutions Inc.; counsel to McKenzie Lake Lawyers, LLP and long standing CAS (Court of Arbitration for Sport) arbitrator
– Former member of WADA’s 3 person independent comission, which exposed widespread doping in Russian athletics.

Who assisted McLaren?

Included were:

– Chief Investigator Martin Dubbey

– Montreal Anti-Doping Laboratory Director, Dr. Christiane Ayotte

– Lawyer and the IP Russian language support, Diana Tesic

– WADA investigation department Mathieu Holz, Richard Young, Esq.,

– 2 Western University Law students, Karen Luu and Kaleigh Hawkins-Schulz

– Expert forensic personnel were engaged who were capable of performing marks and scratches detection, DNA analysis and finger printing, digital data review and analysis, including restoration of deleted data and other
cyber forensic personnel.

– Dr. David Cowan Director of the Drug Control Centre and the DNA analysis unit at Kings College, London (“DCC”) provided the use of his laboratory and did the laboratory analytical work for the IP.

McLaren was asked by the IOC and IAAF to establish (explicitly) whether:

1. There has been manipulation of the doping control process during the Sochi
Games, including but not limited to, acts of tampering with the samples within
the Sochi Laboratory.

2. Identify the modus operandi and those involved in such manipulation.

3. Identify any athlete that might have benefited from those alleged manipulations to conceal positive doping tests.

4. Identify if this Modus Operandi was also happening within Moscow Laboratory outside the period of the Sochi Games.

5. Determine other evidence or information held by Grigory Rodchenkov.

The full report (barring the yet to be published “conclusions and recommendations” is available at: http://www.insidethegames.biz/media/file/37086/Independent%20Commission%20report.pdf

Page indicated key notes within the report:

Initially I had planned on attempting to keep this highlighting process extremely brief, but the more I read, the more difficult this became. The report is frightening, displaying a level of corruption truly unseen since the Soviet doping programs of yesteryear, the complexity of corruption and bribery utilised to ensure Russian sporting dominance is indicative of the level at which a nation can tamper with their own national anti-doping program.

I have done my best to embolden the text portions that may register with readers as “most shocking”.

Pg.1 Key Findings

1. The Moscow Laboratory operated, for the protection of doped Russian athletes, within a State-dictated failsafe system, described in the report as the Disappearing Positive Methodology.

2. The Sochi Laboratory operated a unique sample swapping methodology
to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Games.

3. The Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation
of athlete’s analytical results or sample swapping, with the active
participation and assistance of the FSB, CSP, and both Moscow and Sochi

Pg.4 “The IP investigative team has developed evidence identifying dozens of Russian athletes who appear to have been involved in doping. ”

Pg.5 “The IP has gathered and reviewed as much evidence as could be accessed in the limited 57 day time frame in which this Report was required to be completed. More evidence is becoming available by the day but a cut-off had to be implemented in order to prepare the Report. ”

Pg.6 “This Report contains evidence that the IP considers to be established beyond a reasonable doubt. There is more data that needs to be further analysed but does not affect the factual findings in this Report. ”

Pg.6 “The investigation has established the Findings set out in this Report beyond a reasonable doubt. The IP can confirm the general veracity of the published information concerning the sample swapping that went on at the Sochi Laboratory during the Sochi Games. ”

Pg.6 “The surprise result of the Sochi investigation was the revelation of the extent of State oversight and directed control of the Moscow Laboratory in processing, and covering up urine samples of Russian athletes from virtually all sports before and after the Sochi Games. ”

Pg.6 “The IC exposed State involvement in the manipulation of the doping control program operated by Russian Anti-Doping Agency (“RUSADA”) and within Russian Athletics”

Pg. 7 “The State implemented a simple failsafe strategy. If all the operational
precautions to promote and permit doping by Russian athletes proved to have
been ineffective for whatever reason, the laboratory provided a failsafe

Pg.7 “The State had the ability to transform a positive analytical result into a negative one by ordering that the analytical process of the Moscow Laboratory be altered. The Ministry of Sport (“MofS”), RUSADA and the Russian Federal Security Service (the “FSB”) were all involved in this operation.”

Pg.8 “The IC uncovered a system within Russia for doping athletes directed by senior coaching officials of Russian athletics. That was accomplished by the corruption of Doping Control Officers (“DCO”) working under the direction of RUSADA. ”

Pg.8 “The coaches were also able to achieve their objectives of doping athletes under their direction by knowing the wash out periods for various performance enhancing drugs (“PED”).”

Pg.9 “With the additional evidence available to the IP, this Report provides facts and proof beyond that of the IC and describes a larger picture of Russian doping activity and the sports involved beyond merely Athletics”

Pg.10 “The Sochi Laboratory urine sample swapping scheme was a unique standalone approach to meet a special set of circumstances. ”

Pg.10 “The Disappearing Positive Methodology was used as a State directed method following the very abysmal medal count by the Russian Olympic athletes participating in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver. ”

Pg.10 “ A new Deputy Minister of Sport, Yuri Nagornykh, was appointed in 2010 by Executive Order of then Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin … Nagornykh…reports to the Minister of Sport, Vitaly Mutko. –> Mutko..  is also the chairman of the organising committee for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and is a member of the FIFA Executive Committee.”

Pg.11 “Nagornykh, as the Deputy Minister of Sport, decided who would
benefit from a cover up and who would not be protected. ”

Pg.11 “In total violation of the WADA International Standard for Laboratories (“ISL”) all analytical positives appearing on the first sample screen at the Moscow laboratory were reported up to the Deputy Minister after the athlete’s name had been added to the information to be supplied.

The order would come back from the Deputy Minister “SAVE” or “QUARANTINE”. If the order was a SAVE the laboratory personnel were required to report the sample negative in WADA’s Anti-Doping Management System (“ADAMS”). Then the laboratory personnel would falsify the screen result in the Laboratory Information Management System (“LIMS”) to show a negative laboratory result. The athlete benefited from the cover up determined and directed by the Deputy Minister of Sport and
could continue to compete dirty.”

Pg.12 –> The report mention that RUSADA faced an issue of having independent testers present at major international events such as the 2013 IAAF World Championships, and the 2014 Sochi Olympics – this was defeated by, and this is a direct quote: “Through the efforts of the FSB, a method for surreptitiously removing the caps of tamper evident sample bottles containing the urine samples of doped Russian athletes had been developed for use at Sochi. The IP has developed forensic evidence that establishes beyond a reasonable doubt some method was used to replace positive dirty samples during the Sochi Games”

Pg.12 “The IP investigation, assisted by forensic experts, has conducted its own experiments and can confirm, without any doubt whatsoever, that the caps of urine sample bottles can be removed without any evidence visible to the untrained eye. Indeed, this was demonstrated in front of Professor Richard McLaren. ”

Pg.13 “The FSB developed a method to surreptitiously open the urine bottles to enable sample swapping. This keystone step cleared the way for the
development of a clean urine bank as a source from which to draw urine samples for swapping”

Pg.13-15 – These pages detail, comprehensively, the full procedure used by Russian government officials, to swap out dirty samples with ‘clean urine’ samples, from a building located directly next to the Sochi testing center – this is about as cloak and dagger as one could imagine, let alone actually be confirmed to have been carried out with near daily regularity.

Pg.15 –> Chemistry/Avoidance of testing positive – often achievable via simple methods, as suggested: “Dr. Rodchenkov’s role in the sample swapping scheme included ensuring that the substituted sample was manipulated to match as closely as possible the Specific Gravity (SG) indicated on the original Doping Control Form (“DCF”) taken at the Sochi venue. This adjustment was accomplished by adding table salt to raise the clean urine SG or distilled water to dilute the clean urine sample so as to closely match the SG number on the DCF. ”

Pg.15 “The London WADA accredited Laboratory, at the request of the IP, advised that of the forensically representative samples tested, 6 had salt contents higher than what should be found in urine of a healthy human. The forensic examination for marks and scratches within the bottle caps confirmed that they had been tampered with. ”

Pg.16 “The Disappearing Positive Methodology was used during the
summer of 2014. As a consequence, Dr. Rodchenkov knew that he would have
dirty B samples from that period. A number of dirty samples had been collected
and reported as negative, and were stored in the laboratory. The solution to the problem in part was to destroy thousands of samples obtained and stored prior to 10 September 2014, being the minimal 90-day period of storage as prescribed under the ISL. However, the massive destruction of samples only got rid of part of the problem”

Pg.17 “Dr Rodchenkov prepared a schedule of 37 athletes whose samples were potentially a problem if another accredited laboratory were to analyze them. A  meeting was held with Deputy Minister Nagornykh in which the jeopardy of the laboratory was discussed were something not done to deal with the selected samples. The upshot of that meeting was that Deputy Minister Nagornykh resolved to call in the “magicians”. That night the FSB visited the laboratory and the next day sample bottles were in the laboratory without their caps. The IP found that these samples all had negative findings recorded on ADAMS. ”

Pg.25 “Olivier Rabin wrote to Dr. Rodchenkov in December 2014 requesting to secure and save all the samples being held at the Moscow Laboratory. There were some 10,000 samples in the Laboratory at the date of that letter. Shortly after its receipt in Moscow, the Laboratory destroyed some 8,000 samples it held dated prior to 10 September 2014”

Pg.26 “There is no doubt there is more to be revealed. However, we are confident that what we have found meets the highest evidentiary standard and can be stated with confidence. Any matters where I felt the evidence did not meet the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt have not been included in this Report. ”

Pg.28 “The IC Report identified issues of “… grave concern in regard to integrity, corruption, handling of testing analysis, process of samples and in a separate matter, the deliberate destruction of a large number of samples prior to a WADA onsite audit in December of 2014” (p.193). ”

Pg.29 “…the IP concludes that the Moscow Laboratory was
not staffed with personnel who behaved in a rogue fashion for their own
financial gain. Quite to the contrary, the laboratory personnel were not
permitted to act independently of any instructions that were funneled down to
them from the MofS.”

Pg.30 “3.1.1 IP Findings
1. The Moscow Laboratory operated under State directed oversight and
control of its anti-doping operational system.

2. The Moscow Laboratory personnel were required to be part of the State
directed system that enabled Russian athletes to compete while engaged
in the use of doping substances.

3. The Moscow Laboratory personnel did not have a choice in whether to be
involved in the State directed system. ”

Pg.32-35 – Describes, with names of Russian government officials, the exact procedure followed to achieve a “Disappearing Positive” sample, truly harrowing.

Pg.36 “According to the IP witnesses, athletes that were ordered SAVE
tended to be medal winners or athletes of promise. Foreign athletes, or Russian athletes deemed unpromising, were ordered QUARANTINE by the MofS and their Laboratory bench work was completed using the regular laboratory analytical process. ”

Pg.36 “A total of 643 positive screen Athlete Profile reports were reviewed and catalogued by the IP into a database. From that database, the IP was able to develop certain statistics that explain the overall results of the Disappearing Positive Methodology.
For example, the statistics show that the MofS made SAVE or QUARANTINE orders on 577 Athlete Profiles resulting in over 50 percent distribution of SAVEs for Russian athletes. ”

Pg.37 Because really, why cover up a positive unless a Russian athlete is involved! As shown by this charming little communication: “ Here is an excerpt from recovered digital communication during the 2013 Moscow Championships: “All foreigners – quarantine!” and during another event “Foreigners – Quarantine.””

Pg. 38 “The IP is aware of at least 1 foreign footballer playing in the Russian League had that benefit of a SAVE order. That SAVE decision was made by Minister Mutko” –> Mutko also, coincidentally, happens to be the President of the Russian Football Federation!

Pg.39 “In total, over the period 2012-2015, the IP found the Disappearing Positive Methodology used on 643 positive samples. The charts detail the findings. Given that it was impossible for the IP to achieve full access to Russian records or the LIMS system, this number is only a minimum.

A MINIMUM – not an exact figure – a conservative estimate puts the number of falsified positive tests at 643 samples – systematic would be a severe understatement when describing Russia’s doping program.

Pg.41 – This might almost be the most phenomenal graph of the entire document, wherein each sport containing a ‘positive’ covered up sample, is listed. Given my current technological inability to embed a graph from a .pdf file, I’ll summarise:

Athletics = 139
Weightlifting = 118
Non-Olympic Sport = 35

Notice the rather severe drop off in covered up positives? Thought so.

Paralympic Sport = 35
Wrestling = 30
Canoeing = 28

Pg.43 – That moment when you, in a blind panic, destroy a casual 1000+ samples, right?
“The IC has reported on how, in advance of the WADA visit, Dr. Rodchenkov destroyed 1417 samples analysed more than 90 days before 10 September 2016. As a result of the IP investigation the reason for doing so is now known”

Pg.43 – The FSB (State Secret Service/Spies/The new version of the KGB, whatever you would prefer to call them) are constantly referenced throughout the document, highlighted here that the the Minister for Sport referred to the FSB in official communications as “the wizards”, noted as individuals that could magically clear up potentially embarrassing issues.

Pg.46 “Further analytical tests on the related A bottle contents were undertaken by the DCC for DNA, salt content, creatinine and steroid profile. As previously noted, Dr. Rodchenkov’s evidence was that salt was sometimes added to the clean replacement urine where necessary to raise the SG of the sample to be consistent with the SG reported on the initial DCF. ”

Pg.48 “Of the 12 bottles found to have been tampered with, based on scratches and marks found on the caps, the following sports were involved: Athletics 4, Wrestling 2, Weightlifting 2, Taekwondo 1, Skating 1, Sailing 1, and Judo 1. The names of the athletes involved are being withheld by the IP at this stage for consideration of further results management proceedings. ”

Pg.49 “The Steroid Cocktail” saga begins – “After he became laboratory director, and in furtherance of his responsibility to
improve Russian sport performance by covering up doping, Dr. Rodchenkov
developed a steroid cocktail optimized to avoid detection”

Pg.50 –> You might be forgiven for thinking you were reading a $2 spy novel here… “ Initially, that cocktail consisted of Oral Turinabol (Dehydrochloromethyl-testosterone), Oxandrolone and Methasterone. The steroids were dissolved in alcohol (Chivas for the men  and Vermouth for the women). The solution was then swished in the mouth in order to be absorbed by the bucal membrane and then spit out. Dr. Rodchenkov’s research indicated that, with the laboratory technology available at the time, the detection window for the steroids in the cocktail would not exceed 3-5 days. ”

Pg.50 “While Dr. Rodchenkov’s “cocktail” may sound fanciful, the IP has confirmed with its scientific advisor that indeed steroids dissolve better in alcohol than in water, and that the administration of steroids through bucal absorption, as compared to injection or swallowing the drug, does shorten the window of detectability. ”

Pg.54 –> Dr. Rodchenkov email’s a colleague “That report starts out “Athletics was always on doping program.” It concludes by saying “The same situation is uncontrollable in weightlifting… The use of anabolic steroids is almost year around…” ”

Pg.56 –> IAAF Corruption, not to be forgotten: “Finally, reference is made to the IC Report in which Minister Mutko’s role in the
scandal and bribery attempt involving the IAAF and Russian racewalkers was more fully discussed. Dr. Rodchenkov’s evidence is that in September 2012, he met with Minister Mutko to discuss the IAAF’s extortion demand. At that meeting, Minister Mutko asked Dr. Rodchenkov whether the situation was really so bad that he needed to pay all of that money, thereby exposing his knowledge of the doping problem in Russian Athletics. ”

Pg.56 —> Just in case you though the abbreviation sounded like another bunch of not so kind folk: “The FSB is the successor of the KGB and has responsibility for all security operations at home and abroad. ”

Pg.57 –> A doping program doesn’t get more state support than legitimate assistance from the national secret intelligence service: “Dr. Rodchenkov informed the IP during a face to face interview that when he became the Director of the Moscow Laboratory he signed a document which made him an FSB agent code name “KUTS”. He was responsible for reporting everything to his FSB superior from which the reporting would go up the chain of command to an FSB General. ”

Pg.58 “In addition, the FSB had an operations room and a sleeping room on the 4th floor of the Sochi Laboratory and FSB Blokhin had access to the Laboratory as an accredited persons under the cover of being a
sewage and plumbing employee of the building service maintenance contractor, Bilfinger. ”

Pg.58 –> WADA Officials were kept under official surveillance during the 2014 Sochi Games: “Dr. Rodchenkov’s evidence also notes that Thierry Boghossian, a WADA Science Department employee and member of the Independent Observer Team, was put under FSB surveillance to make sure that if he visited the Laboratory in the middle of the night individuals involved in swapping samples would be forewarned”

Pg.60 —> McLaren is about as blunt as is humanly possible in this instance: “The picture that emerges from all of the foregoing is an intertwined network of
State involvement through the MofS and the FSB in the operations of both the
Moscow and Sochi Laboratories. The FSB was woven into the fabric of the
Laboratory operations and the MofS was directing the operational results of the Laboratories. ”

Pg.63 “The plan to protect dirty athletes was
threefold: (i) develop a “undetectable” pharmacological progamme to administer to athletes identified to go on the programme, (ii) State control of all parts of the anti-doping program, and (iii) State support by means of FSB assistance. ”

Pg.64 –> Sometimes the old-fashioned approach works best! “The quaint solution of passing dirty samples through a mouse hole drilled
between the aliquoting room in the secure area of the laboratory and the adjacent “operations” room on the exterior of the secure area ”

Pg.66 “There were no positive samples at the Sochi Games from any Russian athletes. ”

Pg.69 “At a convenient moment, usually around midnight when no one else was in the room, Kurdyatsev would pass the protected athletes A and B samples through  the mouse hole in the aliquoting room to the operations room where Dr. Rodchenkov and others were waiting.”

Pg.74 –> Provides a morbidly humorous comment: “The DCC analyzed these 40 A samples and found 6 to contain quantities of salt
significantly exceeding the levels produced by the human body, absent a serious life threatening medical condition.”

Pg.75 “Of these 6 samples, two were amongst the B sample bottles that the IP’s expert confirmed were tampered with. While the athletes’ identities are being kept confidential at this stage, both were medal winners at Sochi.”

Pg.76 “The IP is aware that the London 2012 Games, the 2013 IAAF World Championships and the 2013 World University Games presented challenges to the State run system. As a consequence, other tactics had to be deployed. In some cases, such as during the IAAF Championships and the University Games, a hybrid system was used. ”

Pg.77 —> Re: 2012 London Olympics testing system: “Before the London Games, the pre-competition samples were collected in official doping control bottles. The analytical results were reviewed by the Moscow Laboratory to determine the likelihood that an athlete was in danger of testing positive at the Games. That likelihood was characterised by Dr. Rodchenkov as
either red where the athlete was going to test positive at the Games and should be replaced; yellow, meant the sample still showed traces of PEDs, but should be clear in time for the Games; and green meant the athlete was cleared to go to the Games. ”

Pg.77 “Meanwhile, EPO also used in micro doses until two weeks before
departure to reduce the possibility of detection by the Athlete Blood Passport
program. Dr. Rodchenkov would later to tell Minister Mutko that if the London
samples were ever reanalysed, the Russian Team would be in trouble and
predicted that Oral Turinabol, Oxandrololone, Methasterone, Drostanelone and
GW1516 would be found to be present. ”

Pg.83 “The IP checked the names of the 46 athletes against London Games’ medal winners. Eleven of these athletes won medals at the Games. A number of these medal winners have subsequently been banned for PED abuse and their medals stripped. ”

Pg.83 —> Re; 2013 World University Games: “The spreadsheet identifies 32 athletes along with the substances discovered in their samples. Of these, 17 are Russian competitors.”

Pg.85 “Finally, after the completion of the Moscow Championships, the Laboratory held a number of positive samples that needed to be swapped by removing the cap and replacing the athlete’s dirty urine before the samples were shipped to another laboratory as instructed by the IAAF. ”

Pg.86 “Key Findings
1. The Moscow Laboratory operated, for the protection of doped Russian
athletes, within a State-dictated failsafe system, described in the report as
the Disappearing Positive Methodology.

2. The Sochi Laboratory operated a unique sample swapping methodology
to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Games.

3. The Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation
of athlete’s analytical results or sample swapping, with the active
participation and assistance of the FSB, CSP, and both Moscow and Sochi

Pg.92-97 provides a communication between Russian government officials, which discusses the current “issues” facing a number of the state-supported doping programs, reasoning what practices may be continued, halted, or modified – all whilst inferring that a number of other major sporting nations have been “unfairly” neglected by WADA. The article is baffling in both tone and confidence of cheating success, I encourage anyone with a specific interest to read through the 5 page letter.

UPDATE: Published WADA Recommendations:

The WADA Executive Committee’s key recommendations based on the McLaren Investigation Report are set out below.

The necessary decisions should be taken by the relevant organizations based on their own rules and regulations.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) to consider, under their respective Charters, to decline entries, for Rio 2016, of all athletes submitted by the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and the Russian Paralympic Committee.

The International Federations (IFs) from sports implicated in the McLaren Report to consider their responsibilities under the World Anti-Doping Code (Code) as far as their Russian National Federations (NFs) are concerned.

Russian government officials to be denied access to international competitions, including Rio 2016.

The Russian National Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) to remain non-compliant under the Code and its staffing and independence to be further reviewed by WADA.

The accreditation process of the WADA-accredited laboratory in Moscow (Moscow laboratory) to be stopped.

The FIFA Ethics Committee to look into allegations concerning football and the role played by a member of its Executive Committee, Minister Vitaly Mutko.Professor McLaren and his team to complete their mandate provided WADA can secure the funding that would be required.

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