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WADA’s probe into 300 Russian athletes shows manipulation in half of the cases

World Anti-Doping Agency (Andy Miah/Flickr)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has completed an investigation into nearly 300 Russia athletes, with almost half showing evidence of manipulation of anti-doping test results.

WADA said in a statement on April 30 that it has handed over the cases of 298 athletes to 28 anti-doping organizations, including 27 international sports federations.

Of those investigated, the files of 145 athletes were marked for manipulation.

WADA said the relevant international organizations would have to decide on what action to take against each doping case.

But it also said it has the option to bring cases to a sports arbitration court if action against doping isn’t taken “in a reasonable time frame.”

“The fact that we have moved to the results management phase now for the entire target group means we are another step closer to bringing those who cheated to justice. This has always been the objective for us as we continue to do what is best for clean sport and athletes around the world,” said Gunter Younger, the director of WADA’s independent intelligence and investigations team.

WADA investigators sifted through 26 terabytes of data and thousands of samples on a computer archive it obtained in 2019 from a disgraced Moscow laboratory and the facility’s Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS), where doping cases were covered up.

WADA said its investigators faced hurdles due to alleged Russian manipulation of the data archive and other attempts to throw them off track in the probe.

The anti-doping agency’s president, Witold Banka, emphasized investigations would continue into Russian manipulation.

“This is not the end of the road,” he said, pointing to a reanalysis of at least 57 samples from the Moscow laboratory.

Doping allegations have plagued the country since the revelation of large-scale state-sponsored doping aimed at improving its medal performance at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi.

In 2019, WADA banned Russia from all major international sporting events for four years for its attempts to undermine the investigation into state-backed doping, which Moscow denies.