Russia Confesses To State-Sponsored Doping, Sort Of

As always, the Russian doping scandal is the most absurd of scandals

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Dec 28, 2016 at 11:19 AM ET

Russian sports officials finally came out and said what everyone paying a lick of attention knew already: they’ve been running a pervasive state-sponsored doping program, one that impacted countless international competitions.

Via the New York Times:

“It was an institutional conspiracy,” Anna Antseliovich, the acting director general of Russia’s national antidoping agency, said of years’ worth of cheating schemes.

Despite the many investigative reports and on the record quotes from Russian athletes turned whistleblowers over the years, the most Russian officials would ever cop to is that some undefined “mistakes” had been made. In May, any hope of retaining plausible deniability started to crumble after Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow anti-doping lab, gave up the goods. He described an operation that was both complex and at times comically low-tech, including a bit of skullduggery where urine samples were swapped out in the dead of night through a hole in the wall.

Rodchenkov also alleged that Russian doping was carried out by multiple officials at all levels of government, including members of the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB. Before speaking with the Times, Rodchenchov fled Russia after two sports officials met their untimely end under mysterious circumstances.

As a result, the World Anti-Doping Agency was finally dragged into conducting a full investigation. In part one of the McLaren Report, WADA claimed that 643 positive drug tests from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics had been covered up, and in Part Two, they charged Russia with running an “institutional conspiracy” from 2011 to 2015 in which 1,000 athletes in 30 different sports received some form of chemical assistance.

Said revelations resulted in the banning of entire Russian Paralympics team and a third of Russia’s Olympic athletes were kept from competing at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro.

And yet, despite Tuesday’s admissions of guilt, Russian officials lobbed more than a few excuses and patently silly explanations.

Like this one:

The officials, however, continue to reject the accusation that the doping program was state-sponsored. They define the Russian state as President Vladimir V. Putin and his closest associates.

Also, they kind of had to dope because everyone else is doing it.

“Russia never had the opportunities that were given to other countries,” Vitaly Smirnov, the 81-year old sports official now heading Russia’s antidoping efforts, told the Times. “The general feeling in Russia is that we didn’t have a chance.”

Smirnov also said that he’s determined to figure out what the motivation for doping might be. Maybe someone could mention the drastic uptick in medals won, and the fact that the athletes are living in an authoritarian state where refusal would mean the end of their career (or worse).

But we’re sure that he’ll come to those pesky realizations sooner or later, as long as Russia is really dead set on solving the probl…

“We are not inclined to consider this information as first hand,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, referring to the statements given to the Times by Antseliovich and others. “The accuracy of these words first needs to be checked.”

Never mind, then.