Russian officials have admitted to working a far-reaching doping operation that implicated dozens of Russian athletes at not just the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi but across several Olympic Games, the New York Times reports.
“It was an insitutional conspiracy,” Russia’s national anti-doping agency acting director Anna Antseliovich told The Times.
Over the past year, the New York Times has reported that former anti-doping lab chief Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov helped tampered with urine samples at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Cocktails that mixed alcohol and performance-enhancing drugs were also used as ways to cheat. The Federal Security Service, a successor to the K.G.B., broke into sample bottles holding urine. High-ranking officials would take bribes and other means to cover up positive tests by notable elite athletes.
Russian sports officials denied all the allegations. More than 100 athletes were barred from competing at the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro as a result of the evidence of rampant doping. The International Association of Athletics Federation, track and field’s governing body, suspended Russian athletes from international competition and the ban remains in place going into 2017.
Russian officials continue to reject the accusation that the doping program was state-sponsored, which would implicate President Vladimir V. Putin and his closest associates.
“From my point of view, as a former minister of sport, president of Olympic committee — we made a lot of mistakes,” Vitaly Smirnov, a Russian sports official told the Times.
Smirnov also mentions the Fancy Bears, a group of hackers believed to be Russian that leaked several athlete medical records after the 2016 Olympics. Many of the records showed that athletes were granted several therapeutic exemptions for legitimate medical uses.
“Russia never had the opportunities that were given to other countries,” Smirnov added.
Last week the International Olympic Committee announced a look into disciplinary proceedings against 28 Russian athletes whose drug-testing samples were likely tampered with in Sochi.