The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is considering suspending the Russian Track and Field team from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The team is already banned from competing in events run by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The news came after a New York Times report saying Russian agents tampered with urine samples during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
The Times talked with the former head of Russia’s anti-doping agency. He said the Russians collected clean urine from athletes before the Games. They then substituted the clean urine for samples showing evidence of drug use.
Thomas Bach is the head of the IOC. He said the organization is considering different types of punishments for the Russian team.
He did not rule out banning Russia’s entire team from the Games.
Bach said if the allegations were true, they would represent an “unprecedented level of criminality.”
The doping problems with Olympic athletes are not limited to the 2014 Games.
Thirty-one athletes from around the world may be banned from this year’s Olympics in Rio. New testing methods show evidence of doping from their samples collected in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
The names of those athletes will be released in June.
Also, the IOC ordered 250 samples from the 2012 Games in London to be tested with the new methods. Those results will be available in the next week.
Bach said “the results of the investigation will greatly influence the nature of the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games Rio 2016.”
The tennis player Maria Sharapova is another Russian athlete who is waiting to find out her status for the Olympics.
She tested positive for the drug meldonium at the Australian Open earlier this year. She faces a ban from tennis that could last for four years.
She met with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) on Wednesday in London to discuss her case. She hopes her suspension will be reduced.
The ITF is expected to announce the results of the hearing sometime this summer. That means Sharapova will most likely miss the French Open and possibly Wimbledon.
The Olympics begin on August 5.
Based on the news that Russia supported the doping of its athletes, the United States Department of Justice said it was opening an investigation.
The New York Times reported that the same U.S. attorney’s office that investigated the FIFA corruption case is looking into the doping scandal.
A Kremlin spokesperson said he did not think the U.S. Department of Justice should be able to apply its law to non-U.S. territories.
Russia is not the only country to come under scrutiny recently. The World Anti-Doping Association called Kenya’s drug-testing agency “non-compliant.”
There was concern that its track and field athletes would not be allowed to compete in Rio. But on Friday, the IAAF said the Kenyan team would be allowed to compete, after all.
I’m Dan Friedell.
Words in This Story
tamper – v. to change something in an illegal way
sample – n. a small amount of something that gives you information about the thing it was taken from
swap – n. to replace (something) with something else
allegation – n. a statement saying that someone has done something wrong or illegal
unprecedented – adj. not done or experienced before
nature – n. a basic quality that something has
apply – v. to cause (force, pressure, etc.) to have an effect or to be felt
scrutiny – n. the act of carefully examining something especially in a critical way : the act of scrutinizing something
compliant – adj. agreeing with a set of rules, standards, or requirements
scandal – n. something that is shocking, upsetting or unacceptable