Oswald said the lag in testing Sochi samples stemmed from a difficulty coming up with a suitable method of detecting whether bottles — previously considered tamper-proof — had been manipulated.

“In a few days we will have the results of the first 50 bottles, and then we can proceed,” he said.

The scale and audaciousness of Russian doping was unveiled last year when an investigator for the World Anti-Doping Agency, Richard McLaren, laid out how it worked, shortly before the Rio Games. His report used forensic analysis to corroborate the testimony of the former chief of Russia’s national antidoping lab, Grigory Rodchenkov, who described how he and Russia’s intelligence service had helped the nation’s Olympians use banned, performance-enhancing substances throughout the Sochi Games.

McLaren’s report — which focused on Russian doping schemes beyond Sochi — identified about 1,000 athletes. Early indications suggest that proving wrongdoing by some implicated athletes is likely to be difficult. The World Anti-Doping Agency has cleared 95 of the first 96 athletes whose cases of doping in competitions have been reviewed.

The amount of evidence on individual athletes varies widely, and sports officials have been directed to seek out additional evidence to bolster prosecutions.

Before the Rio Games, doubts about which athletes would be participating continued right up to the eve of the event.

The I.O.C.’s president, Thomas Bach, has long favored “individual justice” over collective responsibility, and he left the decision about Russia’s participation in Rio to individual sports federations. Some, like cycling, rowing and track and field, adopted blanket bans, while others allowed athletes who could prove they were clean to participate.

No winter sports federation has supported a total ban of Russian athletes at the coming Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, a position that the majority of I.O.C. members in Lima seemed to share.

“For me, the important thing is that the innocent athletes have got to be there,” said Tunku Imran, the I.O.C. member for Malaysia.

Any possible penalty against Russia will have to wait until the completion of a wider report on Russian doping by Samuel Schmid, a former president of Switzerland.

Russia remains confident of taking a full contingent of athletes to Pyeongchang.

“It will be a Russian team with the Russian anthem and Russian flag,” Alexander Zhukov, the head of the Russian Olympic committee, told reporters.

Russia has denied that there was a state-backed conspiracy to cheat, something that it is required to acknowledge as part of a rehabilitation plan set out by the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Yet, moments after Zhukov again denied the existence of a national plot to cheat, the president of WADA, Craig Reedie, suggested some kind of admission was likely to come soon.

“Alexander is very well aware of it, and in these situations it’s down to words,” Reedie said.

The Russian case has created tensions within the clean-sport movement. This week, a group of 17 national antidoping agencies published a letter demanding that Russia be excluded from Pyeongchang.

“The failure to expeditiously investigate individual Russian athlete doping poses a clear and present danger for clean athletes worldwide and at the 2018 Winter Games,” said the letter, which had signatories that included the United States and British antidoping agencies.

Reedie called the criticisms “unhelpful and backward looking.”

Continue reading the main story

Source link