LONDON • More than 1,000 Russian athletes across 30 or more sports were involved in or benefited from state-sponsored doping between 2011 and 2015, a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) investigation report has revealed.
The second part of a report by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren said he had found "an institutional conspiracy across summer, winter and Paralympic sports" in Russia and "a cover-up that operated on an unprecedented scale".
"We have evidence revealing that more than 500 positive results were reported as negative, including well-known and elite-level athletes, who had their positive results automatically falsified," he said.
"It is impossible to know just how deep and how far back this conspiracy goes. For years, international sports competitions have unknowingly been hijacked by the Russians.
"Coaches and athletes have been playing on an uneven field. Sports fans and spectators have been deceived and it is time that this stops."
Referring to the 2012 London Olympics, McLaren added: "The Russian Olympic team corrupted the London Games on an unprecedented scale.
"Many athletes were given a cocktail of undetectable steroids by the Russian anti-doping agency before the Games. The athletes were then subject to 'washout testing' being used to ensure they did not test positive at the Olympics."
McLaren's first report, published last July, had detailed how major events in Russia - including the 2013 World Athletics Championships and the Sochi Winter Olympics a year later - had been corrupted by the Russian government, its ministry of sport and FSB (the Russian federal security service), which ensured those athletes taking banned substances did not test positive at the events.
But McLaren's second report - which was based on interviews, e-mails, and the review of more than 4,000 Excel spreadsheets, many of which he has published on the website www.ipevidencedisclosurepackage.net - added further meat to the gristle.
He found that the urine samples of four Sochi gold medallists had "physically impossible salt levels" - indicating tampering by the authorities - and others, including two female hockey players, having male DNA in their urine samples.
This, said McLaren, "provided confirmation that the original samples had been tampered with and swapped."
He specifically pointed out former Moscow doping laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov, who swapped positive urine samples with previously collected clean samples, adding salt and coffee to replicate the consistency of the original samples.
McLaren concluded by saying that a "dark secret" had been brought out in the open - but insisted that Russia could yet reform itself.
"Can they be trusted? I think the answer is yes but they have to reform themselves," he said.
In a statement, the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) said: "The full findings of the report are unprecedented and astonishing. They strike right at the heart of the integrity and ethics of sport.
"We wholeheartedly agree with Professor McLaren that the best course of action is to work together to fix the broken and compromised anti-doping system in Russia.
"The recently appointed IPC Taskforce looks forward to working closely with our member the Russian Paralympic Committee to do just that."
The report is a huge new blow to Russia, which is already battling to get back into the International Association of Athletics Federations.
Wada president Craig Reedie said last month that Russia was still a long way off returning to the global body.
THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS