WADA Report: Moscow Testing Lab, Used in 2015 FINA Worlds, Compromised

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has received the results of its Independent Commission’s Report today, which focused mostly on Russian Athletics, but could have some major implications for the sport of swimming. (Our earlier coverage of the report)

Most notable: the Independent Commission Report alleges that there has been significant government interference with the WADA-accredited Moscow anti-doping lab, the same lab that tested all samples from the 2015 FINA World Championships.

Moscow Lab Compromised?

The Independent Commission Report also reported “severe deficiencies in the operations at the Moscow [anti-doping] laboratory.” Most troubling was the report’s claim that the Russian Ministry of Sport had “asserted influence over the Moscow laboratory” when anti-doping labs are to be strictly independent to ensure fair testing.

According to the Associated Press, Russian Sports minster Vitaly Mutko denied wrongdoing and said he was “disgusted with the whistleblowers” whose claims led to the Independent Commission’s investigation.

Some of the most egregious accusations in the report:

Ministry of Sport Instructing Lab To Manipulate Samples: workers in the labs wouldn’t give specific names, but said the Ministry of Sport had specifically told the lab to “manipulate particular samples”: lab personnel were quoted in the report saying “there is no need [to know the names] because the instructions are directly from the Ministry of Sport…”

Government Agents Working Undercover in the Doping Lab: personnel in the Moscow lab alleged  that government actors were actually physically present in the lab during the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics: “[L]ast time in Sochi, we had some guys pretending to be engineers in the lab but actually they were from the federal security service, let’s call it the new KGB; FSB,” the report reads.

Concealment Of Positive Drug Tests: The report includes multiple cases in which athletes or lab personnel allege that positive doping tests were concealed in exchange for large sums of money. The report: “these investigative reports demonstrate strong corroborating evidence that the Moscow laboratory has been involved in a widespread cover-up of positive doping tests.”

Destruction of Samples Before WADA audit: After a German documentary made allegations of massive doping violations within Russia, WADA scheduled an audit of the Moscow testing lab. According to the report, WADA e-mailed the director of the lab, telling him to retain all samples the lab had on hand for the audit. But when WADA arrived for the audit, it discovered that the director had ordered the disposal of almost 1,500 samples in what he told WADA was “some clean up to prepare for WADA’s visit.”


Ultimately, the Independent Commission concluded that “many tests the laboratory has conducted should be considered highly suspect.”

The Moscow lab was the official laboratory testing all samples from this past summer’s 2015 FINA World Swimming Championships.

Russian Athletics under threat of suspension

Most of the coverage of the Independent Commission report so far has focused on the first major bombshell it dropped on the sporting world: it recommended suspending the entire Russian Athletics Federation (which governs track & field) until the nation cleans up its doping act.

More specific to the world of swimming, though, the report didn’t rule out that the violations it discovered were isolated only to track & field. The report noted that it was commissioned specifically to address athletics in Russia, adding that “there is no reason to believe that Athletics is the only sport in Russia to have been affected by the identified systemic failures.”

No less than 10 Russian swimmers have been slapped with doping suspensions over the past two years:

The Independent Commission says it hasn’t found any written evidence of government involvement in the widespread doping within Russian athletics, but said “it would be naïve in the extreme to conclude that activities on the scale discovered could have occurred without the explicit or tacit approval of Russian governmental authorities.”

WADA can’t suspend Russia’s athletics federation itself, but called on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to make that move.

The ongoing story has special significance for swimming given that Russia’s sports minister publicly warned the Russian swimming federation last summer that it could face a similar suspension if doping violations continued.

You can read the full Independent Commission Report here.

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Joel Lin
8 years ago

Tony — I can understand your comment as per the way the article is written, but just like all things FINA, all we really needed to to was stay tuned. The head of the Russian lab in Moscow resigned after admitting he destroyed over 1,400 blood and urine samples. This is one day after he defiantly called the WADA accusers idiots.

This is FINA’s worst nightmare — grab a briefcase of cash in the Middle East or in Russia and you’d best be sleeping with one eye open watching the news wires. Maybe FINA thought they could handle all of this without getting white silk dirty, but in that belief Julio & Co are even dumber than I thought.… Read more »

8 years ago

Funny enough – “The Independent Commission says it hasn’t found any written evidence of government involvement” but they still makes public accusations and allegations.

My neighbour believes that aliens exists and government involved in some shady deals with them. He doesn’t have any written evidence too, but keep on believing…

Philip Johnson
8 years ago

Is anyone even surprised by this? The least they can do is ban the Russian Federation from the Olympics.

Reply to  Philip Johnson
8 years ago

Not Surprised but happy there will be serious sanctions for that unserious / cheating Federation . Jeah !!!!!!

ole 99
8 years ago

My cynical prediction… nothing happens.

8 years ago

I have just heard that there is a possible suspension of many track & field russian athletes – possibly even the whole Russian team < This feels like only the beginning of a long cleansing process . We are up to many surprises to come soon .

Apollo Creed
8 years ago

Everything you need to know is in Rocky IV. That is all.

8 years ago

Remember that FINA, normally king of looking the other way when it comes to sporting ‘irregularities’ sent out a press release before Kazan saying that they were sending ‘observers’ to monitoring the Russian drug testing labs during the World Aquatics Championships. It would be interesting to hear the real and honest chatter about how well that worked.

8 years ago


About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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