Russian anti-doping agency head Yuri Ganus says that Russia made thousands of changes to drug tests, some to protect former star athletes now working in sports administration.
The New York Times reports that Ganus made the admission in an interview at a conference in Colorado. Ganus is the director general of RUSADA, the Russian anti-doping body. He had previously spoken about the potential of sample manipulation, saying it couldn’t be ruled out, but his comments on Sunday were much more definitive.
Specifically, Ganus says that Russia doctored “thousands” of samples, and he says the data could have been manipulated to protect the reputations of star athletes who now hold key government or sport administration positions. Ganus also said that manipulation of the data could only be done by people with access to some of Russia’s most powerful institutions.
Last month, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that it suspected tampering in the data Russia had provided from its Moscow anti-doping lab. The New York Times story sheds a little more light on how WADA came to that conclusion, reporting that WADA cross-referenced the samples Russia provided against a separate set given to them by a whistle-blower in 2017.
The data was a central component of RUSADA’s reinstatement to WADA compliance, though Russia missed its first deadline to turn over the data last December. WADA had given Russia three weeks to investigate and explain the inconsistencies in the data; those three weeks should be up this week.
The New York Times reports that WADA will meet via phone on October 23 to decide whether to push for a ban on Russian sports federations that could keep them out of the 2020 Olympics. Unlike in 2016, when individual sport federations were able to make their own determinations on Olympic eligibility after Russia’s doping scandal, new rules adopted last year mean that if the Court of Arbitration for Sport supports a WADA ban on Russian athletes, that ban would automatically go into effect over “a wide range of sports and federations bound by the WADA code.”
The Times also notes the surprise at Ganus’s open speech on the issue, when two other Russian anti-doping officials have recently died under suspicious circumstances. One was Ganus’s predeccessor at RUSADA. Ganus was the official who last December publicly called on Vladimir Putin to turn over data from the Moscow lab out of concern that Russian athletes would be suspended from international competition if the deadline were missed.