Dozens of Russian athletes who competed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, including at least 15 medal winners, were part of a state-run doping program, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
According to the report, those involved included some of Russia’s biggest stars of the Games, including 14 members of its cross-country ski team and two veteran bobsledders who won two golds.
Russian anti-doping experts and members of the intelligence services secretly broke into tamper-proof bottles to replace urine samples tainted by performance-enhancing drugs with clean urine collected months earlier, the New York Times reported.
By the end of the 2014 Olympics, Grigory Rodchenkov, who at the time was director of the Russia's anti-doping laboratory, said as many as 100 dirty urine samples were expunged, the New York Times said.
The report is the latest alleging widespread performance-enhancing drug use by the country's athletes. In the past week, CBS News aired an interview saying that at least four of Russia's gold medal winners at the Sochi Olympics were using steroids.
On Wednesday, reporting that the New York Times was soon to release its article, Russian news agency TASS cited Russia's sports minister Vitaly Mutko saying there was an "information attack" on Russian sport.
"The system of organization for the Olympic games was absolutely transparent," Mutko told TASS. "Everything was under the control of international experts – from taking samples to their analysis."
Russia is already banned from international athletics competitions following revelations by an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission last November of widespread state-sponsored doping.
Unless the ban is lifted, Russian athletics competitors will miss the Rio Olympics in Brazil, set to run Aug. 5-21.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Bill Rigby)
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Updated Date: May 12, 2016 23:18 PM