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Expert suspicious of McLaren’s report on doping in Russian sport

July 20, 2016, 15:20 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The WADA Independent Commission released a report on the results of a probe into accusations of doping and manipulation of tests by Russian athletes and officials at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games

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Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren

Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren

© Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP

MOSCOW, July 20. /TASS/. Some technical details from a report by the Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) on doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics have raised serious doubts among specialists, anti-doping expert, Professor Nikolai Durmanov told TASS on Wednesday.

The WADA Independent Commission chaired by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren released a report Monday on the results of a probe into accusations of doping and manipulation of tests by Russian athletes and officials at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

The report claimed that the McLaren Commission had found evidence that Russia’s Sports Ministry and the Center for the Training of Russian National Teams and the Federal Security Service had systematically covered up the doping program in Russian sports.

According to the report, "the Sochi Laboratory operated a unique sample swapping procedure to enable doped Russian athletes to compete at the Games."

The report further claimed that "the forensic examination for marks and scratches within the bottle caps confirmed that they had been tampered with."

However, the Russian expert said that "scratches and marks on the inner side" of bottle caps numerously mentioned in the McLaren report can be evidence of some other manipulations rather than sample swapping.

Scratches as a "keepsake"

"It is believed that sample bottles cannot be opened as they are sealed in a special way," Durmanov told TASS.

The Berlinger Group, which produces the sample bottles, "has been on the market for many years and does not want to lose its reputation by constantly revising its products. But the report says that a method was found to open sample bottles and scratches on the inner side are evidence of that," the expert said.

"Of course, I’m not a big expert on scratches but I have the following simple question: why are there the scratches on the inner side?" the specialist asked.

"If we open something, then signs of tampering are always found on the outside. Only one more or less rational version comes to my mind: the scratches were left as a keepsake. I can’t find any other explanations," the expert said.

Salt sediments

According to WADA’s data, analytical tests showed that some samples "had salt contents higher than what should be found in the urine of a healthy human."

As the WADA Independent Commission claimed, this proved that salt had been added intentionally.

"It follows from the report’s logic that someone, i.e. the Rodchenkov team swapped the ‘chemical’ urine with the clean replacement. Let us leave aside the technical possibility of such an undertaking, since it is completely incomprehensible how and in what way the ‘reserve’ urine could be kept in the laboratory where foreign doping control specialists are present all the time and know all possible methods of fraud," the expert told TASS.

According to the expert, it follows from the McLaren report that salt and other substances were allegedly added to the clean replacement urine to adjust it to the specific gravity of the sample reported on the initial doping control form.

The WADA commission has found a lethally large quantity of salt in these samples confirming they were tampered with, the expert cited the McLaren report.

"This is a strong statement but wait a minute: they presume that salt was added to these samples in quantities to achieve normal physiological density. This means there shouldn’t be any lethal quantity there and there should be only as much salt as can be found in the urine of a normal human, isn’t that logical? Then why are there salt sediments and, one more question, for what purpose? Was it not for the purpose, for which the scratches were left inside the bottle caps?" the expert noted.

The Duchess cocktail and hara-kiri

"As you remember, the previous series, the follow-up of which is the current report, mentioned a cocktail now dubbed ‘the Duchess’ - alcohol with anabolic steroids added to it," the Russian expert said.

"At that time, the professional community, including me, was indignant. We said that alcohol and anabolic steroids were incompatible, since they are complete opposites they neutralize each other’s effect! Now a new version has emerged in this special series - no, athletes did not drink this cocktail - they simply rinsed their mouths," the Russian expert said.

‘As the report claims, this made anabolic steroids undetectable, enabling the use of this cocktail even during competitions," Durmanov said.

"But this is already outrageous! First of all, a dose of anabolic steroids equals dozens and hundreds of milligrams and they can’t be absorbed through mucosal membranes in such quantities, even if you fully fill your mouth with whisky and sleep the whole night with your cheeks bulged," the expert noted.

"As for administering them directly during competitions … First of all, in this case the effects of anabolic steroids are useless. Secondly, an athlete becomes akin to a samurai who has resolved to perform the ritual of hara-kiri by any means because he will surely be caught at the very first doping control while failing to gain any advantages of a physical form," the expert said.

The Russian anti-doping specialist said that the new version of explanations about anabolic cocktails could not stand up to any criticism." "We’re waiting impatiently for the third series."

Doping problem acute in many countries

The doping problem in Russian sports is very acute, although not any severer than in other countries, the expert said.

"This is the most complex social and economic phenomenon, which threatens sports and society all over the world and which has to be fought by all means. Chemical ‘doctoring’ does exist in sports and there are people who do not realize what they do, while there are also those who do it consciously. This is no reason to assume that Russia is somewhat special and that we have some state program and, therefore, the distinguished public has to be zombified by blaring ominous abbreviations, such as the FSB and KGB. All this very much looks like a disinformation campaign," the expert said.

"No doubt, the anti-doping agencies need to straighten things out. However, what they are proposing to do with our country - to declare it a great sinner and bar it from competitions - this is an underhanded thing to do and a threat to the entire Olympic movement," the Russian anti-doping expert said.

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