Russian officials have finally admitted that the country’s athletes benefited from a massive doping program that tainted Olympics and other international sporting events for years. But while officials referred to the doping ring as an “institutional conspiracy,” they wouldn’t go so far as to call it “state-sponsored.”
According to The New York Times, which first reported the news, the acting head of Russia’s anti-doping agency, Anna Antseliovich, emphasized that Russia’s top authorities were not implicated in the doping scandal. An independent report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) recently proved that officials as high up as the deputy sports minister were in fact orchestrating the doping—which means, the Times notes, that Russian officials define the “state” as only president Vladimir Putin and his inner circle.
According to the BBC, the anti-doping agency headed by Antseliovich said that her words were distorted in the New York Times article, that instead of calling the doping an “institutional conspiracy” herself, she was quoting the WADA report, which mentioned an “institutional conspiracy [that] existed across summer and winter sports athletes.” A Kremlin spokesperson said that Russia has always denied state involvement in the doping.
The details of Russia’s doping scandal were revealed by a whistleblower, former head of the anti-doping agency Grigory Rodchenkov, who told the Times in May about how Russian anti-doping officials, along with members of Russia’s secret service, tampered with urine samples during the Sochi Olympics. The country has been under investigation from WADA, and many of its athletes were banned from the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio. WADA revealed in December that 1,000 athletes in 30 sports took part in the doping.