Connect with us

Latest

News

Staff Picks

Professor McLaren again attacks Russian sport

The latest McLaren report into the allegations of doping in Russian sport is a predictable sequel to the report Professor McLaren published last summer. Whilst there is obviously a serious case to answer, Professor McLaren’s allegation of a gigantic state sponsored conspiracy to dope Russian athletes is nowhere near proved.

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

809 Views

On 9th December 2016 Canadian law Professor McLaren issued the second part of his report into the Russian Doping Scandal.  Its full text can be found here.

In this report Professor McLaren sets out in some detail what he claims was a state sponsored conspiracy to dope Russian athletes in preparation for the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games and the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

The first point to make about this latest report is that there should never have been more than one report.  As Professor McLaren admits, he has only just finished processing the evidence now, which is why he has presented his final report now.

What that means is that Professor McLaren should have delayed publishing his report until now.  Instead, rather than wait until he had completed processing the evidence, Professor McLaren published an incomplete report last summer as part of his campaign to ban all Russian athletes from competing in this year’s summer Olympic Games in Rio.

As I have repeatedly said this was wrong.  Using an incomplete report to try to ban athletes against whom no finding of wrongdoing had been made by imposing on them a blanket ban based on their nationality was grossly unfair and discriminatory, whilst denying them the presumption of innocence – as Professor McLaren demanded – was a gross violation of their rights and of due process.

The International Olympic Committee was of the same view, which is why Professor McLaren’s campaign to get all Russian athletes banned from the Olympic Games in Rio in the end failed, though he did succeed in getting Russian athletes banned from the Paralympic Games, which took place shortly after.

I have also pointed out what the proper course of action which should have been followed should have been.  This was to set up a full and open inquiry whilst taking proper precautions in the meantime – as was in fact done – to ensure that cheating by Russian athletes at the summer games in Rio was impossible.

This was not the course of action Professor McLaren chose to take, though I would have thought that as a lawyer it was the obvious one for him to take.  As a result he politicised the whole investigation – turning a doping inquiry into a witch-hunt – doing in the process massive damage to his own credibility and to that of his inquiry, and losing for himself the goodwill not just of the Russians but also of many others in the international sporting community especially outside the West.

That Professor McLaren himself seems to have gradually become aware of this is shown by his much more measured comments today, which contrast with those he made last summer. 

Thus on being asked whether Russia should have the 2018 World Cup taken away from it and should be banned from the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang in South Korea, he is reported to have said the following

“My function was to be an investigator and to investigate facts.  It is up to the different parties, like the International Olympic Committee, to make their decision.”

That is of course true, but it is also the diametric opposite of what Professor McLaren was saying and doing last summer, when he was trying to get Russian athletes banned from the Olympic and Paralympic Games.  It is in fact an implicit admission that his conduct then was wrong.

One consequence of the politicisation of this affair is that it has detracted from the allegations themselves.  What more in light of Professor McLaren’s latest report can be said about them?

Firstly, as to Professor McLaren’s latest report, like his earlier report it has to be treated more as a statement of the prosecutor’s case rather than as a final judgment in this matter.

Secondly, though Professor McLaren claims to be providing much more evidence to support his claims in his new report than he did in his first report, I have to say that on my reading of his new report there is actually little in it that is really new.  At the time of the publication of his first report Professor McLaren gave the impression that there was a vast mountain of evidence which proved his case but which for various reasons he was not at that time able to disclose.  Now that he has made what he says is a full disclosure of his evidence, I have to say that it does not seem to me to amount to much more than what he disclosed last summer.

All this is not however to say that there is not a serious case to answer.

Whilst one can take issue with many of Professor McLaren’s claims – as I do – there is no doubt doping did occur in the Russian Olympic teams and that Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov – the former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory and Professor McLaren’s star witness – played a major role in it.  It would be perverse to argue otherwise since the Russian authorities have themselves admitted it.

However that does not mean all of Professor McLaren’s claims are true. 

His final report, like his first report, depends heavily – in my opinion excessively – on the evidence of a single witness: Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov. 

Personally I would be far more uneasy about accepting the truth of what Dr. Rodchenkov has to say than Professor McLaren appears to be, given Dr. Rodchenkov’s own admitted role in the doping scandal, and the fact that he is on the run from the Russian police. 

Both of these facts seem to me to give Dr. Rodchenkov an obvious motive to implicate the Russian authorities in his own admitted misdeeds, both in order to exculpate himself in the scandal, and to secure his claim for asylum in the West. 

That fact never seems to worry Professor McLaren or indeed anyone else in the West, where Dr. Rodchenkov is constantly hailed as a whistleblower rather than as a fugitive from justice, even though I would have thought the point was obvious.

As for the forensic evidence Professor McLaren talks so much about, and which he provides to support the testimony of Dr. Rodchenkov, much of this evidence looks to me questionable if only because it turns out to be deductive or inferential rather than factual.

For example, on the crucial question of the illicit opening of the sample bottles, Professor McLaren admits that he has no witness – significantly not even Dr. Rodchenkov – who claims to have seen it done, and therefore has no evidence for how it was supposedly done.  The forensic evidence upon which he relies is purely inferential: the opinion of a single expert as to how it might have been done (not how it was done) based on an already pre-existing assumption that it was done.  

As for the scratch marks on the bottles, to my mind they do not prove anything until it is shown that they can have no other cause than the illicit opening of the bottles.  That is something that requires far more forensic testing than Professor McLaren has had done, and is an issue about which the opinion of more than one expert is required, and concerning which the opinion of the Swiss manufacturer certainly needs to be sought.

Of course none of this means that what Professor McLaren and the expert allege was done to the bottles didn’t happen, or that the bottles weren’t opened as they say they were.   However it does leave their claims open to challenge, and the case nowhere near proved.

It is however in Professor McLaren’s allegation of a gigantic state sponsored conspiracy where he seems to me to be on shakiest ground. 

Not only does the whole case for this conspiracy rest excessively on the testimony of Dr. Rodchenkov, but the supporting evidence to prove the existence of this conspiracy looks to me threadbare. 

The emails Professor McLaren cites in support of his claim for the existence of this conspiracy in my opinion come nowhere close to doing so, whilst the statistical evidence he uses to prove the conspiracy in my opinion does no such thing.  The emails seem to me to contain no ‘smoking gun’ and to be capable of various interpretations, whilst it is notoriously easy to organise random pieces of information to form a statistical pattern, and some of the statistical evidence Professor McLaren produces looks to me suspiciously like that.  

To be clear, the fact that some or even many Russian athletes may have been doping does not mean they were doing it as part of a centralised state sponsored conspiracy, and it certainly does not prove that such a centralised state sponsored conspiracy actually existed.

It should be stressed that just as was the case with Professor McLaren’s first report last summer, this report is empty of contrary evidence and contains practically no testimony from the Russians, whose evidence and arguments Professor McLaren in his report disregards and barely mentions.

It is as if having heard what Dr. Rodchenkov had to say Professor McLaren simply assumed its truth, and then assembled whatever evidence he could in order to corroborate it, whilst ignoring or discounting anything that might contradict it. 

Whilst that is what many prosecutors typically do, a judge carrying out an impartial inquiry – which is what Professor McLaren claims he was doing – would first want to hear what the other side had to say before coming to any conclusions. 

Instead Professor McLaren not only ignored what the Russians have to say, but has made it clear that he did so because he assumes in advance that whatever the Russians tell him will be a lie and untrue.  He was at it again at the news conference following the publication of his report, when he said the following

“It would take a lot to persuade me that they (NB: the Russians – AM) could be totally rehabilitated in time for PyeongChang and have a new culture. When I hear senior people in the Russian sporting and political establishment deny a lot of stuff, every time that happens, I’m thinking it’s going to take longer than it could.”

(bold italics added)

Preventing a defendant from exercising the option of denying accusations made against him, and insisting that the defendant must instead accept the accusations made against him in their entirety without being able to dispute them, and insisting that the defendant must confess his guilt or face dire consequences if he does not do so, is obviously not the right way to arrive at the truth of a matter, and in truth it is a gross violation of due process

For what it’s worth my opinion is that if there was a conspiracy the facts point more to Dr. Rodchenkov being its originator and mastermind than to anyone else in the Russian political or sports structure. 

This is in part because some of the elements of the state sponsored conspiracy Dr. Rodchenkov alleges – like the alleged role of the FSB – seem to me to belong more to the world of spy fiction than to real life.  I doubt the FSB had any role in this affair, and Dr. Rodchenkov’s claim it did, and his equally unlikely claim to have been one of its agents, all but confirms that he is not telling the whole truth. 

Professor McLaren’s credulous acceptance of Dr. Rodchenkov’s stories about the role of the FSB point to something else: Professor McLaren’s unfortunately all too typical ignorance of Russia, and his stereotypically Western assumptions about Russia, which inform his entire report.  Unfortunately that has exposed him to manipulation by Dr. Rodchenkov, which has obviously influenced the conduct of his investigation in a most unfortunate way.

Realistically, having made such a strong pitch against Russia last summer, Professor McLaren was in no position to change course now.  To have done so would have exposed him to ridicule and to legal action, and would be irreconcilable with his own sense of pride and self-esteem.  That all but guaranteed that his second report would be no more than a sequel to his first report, which in turn means that the contents of his second report come as no surprise.

The way forward now is to put all the damage done by this affair behind, and to concentrate on setting up in Russia the best and most full-proof possible system of testing, which will enable Russia to set the gold standard in this area, and which will make it possible for Russia to be fully reintegrated in world sport with a minimum of embarrassment.

In the meantime the legal claims Russian athletes are pursuing in various courts must take their course.  It goes without saying that if the Russian athletes prove their innocence then they should be fully compensated for the injury which has been done to them.

As for the future of Russian sports, if the Russians are able to set up an anti-doping system that is accepted as the gold standard – something which though difficult in my opinion is by no means impossible – then in the long run they might actually be the big beneficiaries from this affair.

  

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

‘I will take over as Brexit Party leader’: Nigel Farage back on the frontline

Nigel Farage says that if the UK takes part in European elections, he will lead his new Brexit Party.

RT

Published

on

By

Via RT


Former UKIP leader Nigel Farage has announced that he will lead his new Brexit Party into the European elections if UK MPs decide to delay Brexit beyond May 22.

Farage, who has ostensibly appointed himself leader, told various media, including the BBC and Sky News on Friday morning: “I will take over as leader of the Brexit Party and lead it into the European Elections.”

It comes after the Brexit Party’s leader, Catherine Blaiklock, quit over a series of alleged Islamophobic statements and retweets of far-right figures on social media.

It is not yet thought that Farage has officially been elected as leader, as the party does not, as yet, have a formal infrastructure to conduct such a vote.

The right-wing MEP vowed to put out a whole host of Brexit Party candidates if the UK participates in the upcoming EU elections in May, adding: “If we fight those elections, we will fight them on trust.”

On Thursday night, the EU agreed to PM May’s request for a delaying to Brexit beyond the March 29 deadline. Brussels announced two new exit dates depending on what happens next week in the UK parliament.

The UK will have to leave the bloc on April 12 unless British MPs agree to May’s Brexit deal. If the withdrawal agreement is passed by next week, EU leaders have agreed to grant an extension until May 22.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Baltics cannot rely on Germany any more

The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it is supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership blunders.

The Duran

Published

on

Submitted by Adomas Abromaitis…

On March 29 Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will celebrate 15 years of becoming NATO member states. The way to the alliance membership was not simple for newly born independent countries. They have reached great success in fulfilling many of NATO demands: they have considerably increased their defence expenditures, renewed armaments and increased the number of military personnel.

In turn, they get used to rely on more powerful member states, their advice, help and even decision making. All these 15 years they felt more or less safe because of proclaimed European NATO allies’ capabilities.

Unfortunately, now it is high time to doubt. The matter is NATO today is not as strong as it supposed to be. And it is not only because of leadership’s blunders. Every member state does a bit. As for the Baltic states, they are particularly vulnerable, because they fully depend on other NATO member states in their defence. Thus, Germany, Canada and Britain are leading nations of the NATO battle group stationed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia respectively.

But the state of national armed forces in Germany, for example, raises doubts and makes it impossible not only defend the Baltics against Russia, but Germany itself.

It turned out, that Germany itself remains dissatisfied with its combat readiness and minister of defence’s ability to perform her duties. Things are so bad, that the military’s annual readiness report would be kept classified for the first time for “security reasons.”

“Apparently the readiness of the Bundeswehr is so bad that the public should not be allowed to know about it,” said Tobias Lindner, a Greens member who serves on the budget and defense committees.

Inspector General Eberhard Zorn said (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-germany-arms/germany-not-satisfied-with-readiness-of-submarines-some-aircraft-idUSKBN1QS1G7) the average readiness of the country’s nearly 10,000 weapons systems stood at about 70 percent in 2018, which meant Germany was able to fulfill its military obligations despite increasing responsibilities.

No overall comparison figure was available for 2017, but last year’s report revealed readiness rates of under 50 percent for specific weapons such as the aging CH-53 heavy-lift helicopters and the Tornado fighter jets.

Zorn said this year’s report was more comprehensive and included details on five main weapons systems used by the cyber command, and eight arms critical for NATO’s high readiness task force, which Germany heads this year.

“The overall view allows such concrete conclusions about the current readiness of the Bundeswehr that knowledge by unauthorized individuals would harm the security interests of the Federal Republic of Germany,” he wrote.

Critics are sure of incompetence of the Federal Minister of Defence, Ursula von der Leyen. Though she has occupied the upper echelons of German politics for 14 years now — and shows no sign of success. This mother of seven, gynecologist by profession, by some miracle for a long time has been remaining in power, though has no trust even among German military elites. Despite numerous scandals she tries to manage the Armed Forces as a housewife does and, of course, the results are devastating for German military capabilities. The same statement could be easily apply for the Baltic States, which highly dependent on Germany in military sphere.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Crimea: The Geopolitical Jewel Russia Continues to Polish

As Putin continues to polish his Black Sea jewel, Europe has to decide if it is going to continue playing the U.S’s games over Ukraine or begin the next phase of its independence.

Published

on

Authored by Tom Luongo via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


With all that is happening in the world Crimea has taken a bit of a backseat recently. Yes, the US, EU and Canada just added more sanctions on Russia via the odious Magnitsky legislation but this is inconsequential.

There’s been a flurry of good news coming out of Crimea and the Black Sea recently that bears discussion. Let’s start with the most important. President Vladimir Putin was in Crimea earlier this week to celebrate the fifth anniversary of the peninsula’s reunification with Russia. There he also officially inaugurated two major upgrades to Crimea’s power grid.

Located in Simferopol and Sevastopol, two new power plants will produce 940 megawatts and secure Crimea’s energy needs for now and into the future.

Power has been Crimea’s Achilles’ heel since breaking off from Ukraine in 2014. It received almost 90% of its power from the mainland. In November 2015, the trunk lines into Crimea were sabotaged by Ukrainian nationalist radicals, encouraged by President Petro Poroshenko plunging it into darkness as winter took hold.

Does this sound familiar? A place that defies US edicts geopolitically is first hit with a full trade embargo, sanctions and threatened militarily by proxies before having its electricity shut off?

*Cough* Venezuela *Cough*

And there are reports that the US has game-planned a similar fate for Iran as well. For Crimea it was easy because of the single-point-of-failure, the trunks from the mainland. For Venezuela it was as well, with the Guri dam, which affected nearly 70 percent of the country.

So, Putin timing the fifth anniversary of reunification with the announcement of the plants moving to full operational status was yet another smooth bit of international political maneuvering.

A not-so-subtle poke in the eye of the Gang Who Can’t Sanction Straight in D.C. as well as lame duck Poroshenko. Elections are at the end of the month and this celebration by Russia and Crimea will not sit well with many Ukrainians, especially the diaspora here in the US which is virulently anti-Putin in my experience.

Secure and stable power generation is a hallmark of a first world territory. Without that economic growth and stability are impossible. This is why to first help stabilize the situation in Crimea after the blackout Russia brought in 400 MW of power across the Kerch Strait from Krasnodor.

Tying Crimea to the mainland via the Kerch Strait bridge was a masterstroke by Putin. The initial power lines were simply a necessity. For those that complain he isn’t doing enough to counter US and European aggression need only look at the Kerch Strait bridge.

Not only did the Russians not seek international approval given the nearly universal refusal to recognize Crimea as Russian they built the thing in a time frame that defies description.

Imagine if this had been an EU project. They would still be debating the initial engineering plans and the political effects on some protected minority.

Not only does it open up the Eastern Black Sea to trade via Crimea but it ends the use of the Sea of Azov as a potential staging ground for naval provocations as last fall’s incident proved. Ukraine is cut off from acting aggressively and cannot count on any help from the US and Europe.

Moreover, Crimea is now permanently Russia’s. And every bit of infrastructure Russia builds there ties the two further together and weakens any bonds Crimea had with Ukraine. The resultant growth and modernization will make its way, economically and culturally back into southern Ukraine and erode the hard border over time.

This is far more important than striking out and metaphorically punching Poroshenko in the mouth, that many of Putin’s detractors wish for.

Presidents change, after all. Patience and attrition is how you beat an aggressive, distant enemy like the US

To remind everyone just how insane the Trump White House has become on matters international, no less than Vice President Mike Pence lobbied Germany to provoke another naval incident at the Kerch Strait.

If there was ever an example of how little Trump’s gang of moldy neocons think of Europe it is this bit of news. In effect, Pence was saying, “We can’t start a war with Russia because it would go nuclear, but you can because Russia can’t live without your trade.”

This coming after the US unilaterally pulled out of the INF treaty and is now flying nuclear bombers to eastern Europe. The message is clear. If the EU doesn’t get with this open-ended belligerent program against Russia and China of John Bolton’s they will be the ones paying the price when chaos breaks out.

On the other side there is Putin; building bridges, pipelines, power plants and roads.

He’s making it clear what the future holds not only for Europe but the Middle East, central Asia and India. We will defend Crimea at all costs, develop it not only into a tourist destination but also a major trade hub as well.

You are more than welcome to join us. But, we don’t need you.

These power plants will raise Crimea’s power output well beyond its current needs, allowing first export of power as well as providing the foundation for future growth.

And as if it weren’t coordinated in any way, the Chinese, on the morning of Putin’s speech, announced that Crimea would be an excellent fit for investment projects attached to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

That’s according to the head of the association of Chinese compatriots on the peninsula, Ge Zhili. “Our organization is bolstering cooperation ties, exchanges and friendly contacts with the Crimean society,” he said at an event dedicated to the fifth anniversary of Crimea’s reunification with Russia, which was held in the Russian Embassy in Beijing on Monday.

It is also ready to contribute to the establishment of “reliable partner ties” and the explanation of legal details of business cooperation with Crimea, Ge Zhili said. “The Chinese society hopes for the development of friendly cooperation with Crimea; we are ready to overcome difficulties for fruitful results.”

Again this is a direct challenge to the US who has Crimea under strict sanctions in the West. China is happy now to move forward with integrating Crimea into its plans. It’s just another example of how Russia and China simply ignore Trump’s fulminations and move on.

I can’t wait until I get to write this article all over again, this time about North Korea, now that Bolton has thrown Russian and Chinese assistance in getting North Korea to the negotiating table back in their face by destroying the Hanoi talks.

This announcement is not to be underestimated given that Chinese Premier Xi Jinping is in Rome this week to open up relations with the new Italian government. Five Star Movement’s Leader Luigi Di Maio said he would welcome becoming a part of BRI, much to the consternation of Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel as well as his coalition partner Lega Leader Matteo Salvini.

It’s already well known that Salvini is interested in ending sanctions on Crimea and re-opening trade with Russia. Italy is desperate for new markets and opportunities, currently stifled under the euro itself as well as Germany’s insistence on austerity hollowing out Italy’s economy and its future prospects.

These issues as well as energy security ones are coming to a head this year with Brexit, the European Parliamentary elections in May and the completion of the Nordstream 2 pipeline later this year.

As Putin continues to polish his Black Sea jewel, Europe has to decide if it is going to continue playing the U.S’s games over Ukraine or begin the next phase of its independence. Salvini will lead a Euroskeptic revolt within the European Parliament in May. It may be big enough to finally defy Merkel and end EU sanctions on Russia over Crimea.

At that point the US will also have a choice, burn down the world economy with even more sanctions, tariffs and acts of war or accept the facts on the ground.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...
Advertisement

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending