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Russian Olympic doping scandal: McLaren Report ‘sexed up’, implicated clean athletes

Reports circulate of growing criticism of WADA and of McLaren Report by IOC officials.

Alexander Mercouris

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More evidence of deep divisions between the IOC and WADA over the Russian doping scandal have emerged in two articles in The Australian.  One article, which is behind a paywall, derives from off-the-record conversations with IOC officials.  The other article, which is open access, gives Professor McLaren’s side of the story.  It alludes to the article behind the paywall and reproduces some of its material.

For an open source account of what is in the article behind the paywall, one is obliged to turn to RT.  It claims that the article says

“….that there are members within the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who believe the release of the McLaren report on the eve of the Olympics was designed to set off the “nuclear option” of issuing a blanket ban on Russia competing at the games.”

This is very similar to what I said in an article I wrote a few days ago.  I said that the whole way the campaign was conducted, and the timing of the publication of the various WADA reports, shows that the agenda all along was to get the whole of Team Russia expelled from the Olympic Games.  Here is what I said:

“That this was indeed the agenda is clear enough from the way the whole anti-doping campaign against Russia has been conducted.  It seems that a decision to expel Russia from the Olympic movement was taken probably around the time of the failure of the campaign to boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014.  All the various allegations of doping in Russia that have circulated since 2010 and even before were then sifted through to construct a case.  Someone then put them all together in a dossier, spicing them up with witness testimony from people like Stepanova and Rodchenkov.  A series of lurid articles and documentaries then appeared in the Western media, reviving all the allegations and putting the worst possible spin on them.  A series of reports from WADA then followed in quick succession starting in the autumn of last year, timed to make the maximum possible impact and to leave the least possible time for proper independent fact checking or for any other steps to be taken before the start of the Rio Games.  That way the allegations could not be properly and independently assessed and no fully fair arrangements could be made to allow for the admission of all indisputably clean Russian athletes.  That opened the way, just as the Rio Games were about to start, for the IOC to be presented with a demand for a blanket ban.”

In my article I also said on the basis of certain comments by IOC President Thomas Bach that all the facts pointed to the IOC being furious with WADA for its conduct of the whole affair.  Again RT’s summary of the article behind the paywall confirms as much.

“Once it was clear that the IOC was not going to support a full ban, the author of the report, the Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, handed over the names of Russian athletes who had been cited in his document to the 28 federations. These names had initially not been published when the report was first made public on July 18. However, The paper’s sources reportedly said that WADA now has a problem as it “had been caught short not having enough detail to justify some of the claims against athletes.”

“They sexed it up which is crazy because now the entire report is under scrutiny and I am sure most of the report is absolutely accurate. It just puts question marks where question marks should not be,” a sports official told the publication.

The president of the Australian Olympic Committee, John Coates, who is also an IOC vice president, reportedly wrote to Australia’s Health Minister Susan Ley, saying that the IOC had a “lack of confidence in WADA.”

“McLaren said there was evidence that 170 Russian athletes, the majority of whom were set to compete in Rio, had previously had positive doping tests destroyed by the Moscow Anti-Doping Laboratory.   Following further analysis of the samples carried out at the Moscow laboratory, it was found that Russian samples were split into four separate categories of seriousness. However, one of these categories was for samples which were not considered serious at all.

“We were asked to make a judgment about Russian competitors based on McLaren’s report but without having any of the detail to understand the significance of them being named,” a senior sports official said, as cited by The Australian. “Now to be told that there were four different categories – why weren’t we told this at the very beginning? It’s a mess and it’s WADA’s fault.’’”

That RT is reproducing the article accurately is confirmed by the open access article.  It corroborates RT’s account of the article behind the paywall:

“Sports officials have accused WADA of “sexing up” the case against Russian athletes by handing over to sporting federations the names of competitors who had no evidence against them in order to invoke the “nuclear option” of expelling Russia from the Games.  IOC spokesman Mark Adams said yesterday the confusion showed the dangers of working with an unfinished report: “To have someone who didn’t (commit) a competition doping offence but was counted as such is a very dangerous thing. We encourage a full report by Professor McLaren before we make any full and frank ­decisions.’’”

(bold italics added)

The reference to McLaren’s report being “unfinished” and to the need for a “full report” refers to something else I said in another earlier article I wrote a week ago:

“In any rational world what ought to have happened is that when Stepanova’s and Rochenkov’s allegations became public a full and proper investigation ought to have been set up, with all the witnesses examined and represented by legal counsel, and with the forensic evidence examined by a variety of scientific experts, who could have been cross-examined and whose reports would have been made public.  Since this would have taken time – a year at least – arrangements of the sort now set up by the IOC should have been made in the meantime to ensure that there was no cheating by Russian athletes at Rio.  Given the scale of the allegations and the suspicion of state involvement in the doping, this would inevitably have involved barring Russian athletes already found to have cheated from competing in Rio, harsh though that is.  At the end of this process the investigation would have delivered a proper report – not like the deeply flawed report provided by McLaren – either confirming or refuting the allegations, and making specific recommendations to prevent the problem arising again.”

The IOC is obviously right to complain that it should not have been asked to make a decision on the basis of an incomplete report provided just 2 weeks before the Games in Rio were due to begin.  However, given his actions in preparing his report and the way he presented it, Professor McLaren is obviously the wrong person to prepare the full report IOC spokesman Mark Adams is referring to.

The open access article in The Australian shows the extent to which McLaren and WADA have been thrown onto the defensive.  It reports McLaren complaining that

“The focus has been completely lost and the discussion is not about the Russian labs and Sochi Olympic Games, which was under the direction of the IOC. But what is going on is a hunt for people supposed to be doping but that was never part of my work, although it is starting to (become) so. My reporting on the state-based system has turned into a pursuit of individual athletes.’’

I am at a total loss to understand how Professor McLaren thinks that a report supposedly about an alleged state-sponsored system of doping should not look into the evidence of doping on the part of individual athletes, when it is precisely those individual cases of doping which are the evidence that there was a state-sponsored system of doping in the first place.   

Obviously there was insufficient time to look into each and every allegation of doping properly in the 57 days in which Professor McLaren’s investigation was conducted.  However that merely points to the fact that conducting a proper investigation within a timeframe of just 57 days was impossible.  Professor McLaren should have admitted as much and asked for more time to conduct his investigation properly, leaving it to WADA and the IOC to put in place proper arrangements to prevent possible cheating by Russian athletes at the Olympic Games in Rio in the meantime. However that is not what he did.   Instead he delivered an incomplete and defective report and demanded a blanket ban on the strength of it. 

Frankly I cannot see in Professor McLaren’s words anything other than confirmation that that was his objective all along.  Judging from what IOC officials are reported to have told The Australian, it seems that is their opinion too.

Further confirmation that this was the objective is provided by the way WADA is now desperately trying to retreat from the way McLaren “implicated” individual athletes in his report.  In order to explain this away WADA’s chief executive Olivier Niggli is quoted by The Australian as providing what can only be called a twisted explanation of what happened.

“WADA chief executive Olivier Niggli said the confusion arose because sports officials had not understood what the word ‘’implicated’’ meant.  ‘’Professor McLaren gave each sport the list of the athletes who were implicated. That was the word used by the IOC; which athletes were appearing there in the report. Then we get to the confusing part. He gave the international federations everything he had, every name.’’ There was no further information about some names, yet the sports federations believed listing meant they were ‘’implicated’’ and they should withdraw the athletes and, following IOC guidelines, they should withdraw them from Olympics competition.”

That Professor McLaren (who is a lawyer) “implicated” athletes in a way that was not intended to cast suspicion on them strikes me as frankly absurd.  On the contrary it is now starting to look as if he presented his findings in such a way as to create the impression that there was more evidence of Russian athletes being involved in doping than was actually the case.

All this is of course grist to the mill for the lawyers in the court cases which the Russian athletes are now bringing.  Some of the comments on the thread to the article in which I discussed these court cases doubted that they would have much effect.  On the contrary it is precisely because these court cases are being brought that the IOC and WADA are now so publicly at odds with each other.  What one can see in these angry exchanges and recriminations are the frantic steps of the two sporting bodies as they try desperately to cover their positions in anticipation of the court cases that are now coming.  Moreover in any court case there is a legal duty of full disclosure which the Russian athletes can use to demand sight of all the correspondence (including telephone records and emails) which led to the decision to exclude them being made.  I expect their lawyers to advise them to use this right to the hilt.  This is beginning to look like a debacle.  As I have said before this affair is only at its start.

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America the Punitive

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common?

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Authored by Philip Giraldi via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


There has been a dramatic shift in how the United States government carries out its business internationally. Admittedly, Washington has had a tendency to employ force to get what it has wanted ever since 9/11, but it also sometimes recognized that other countries had legitimate interests and accepted there was a place for diplomacy to resolve issues short of armed conflict. The Bush Administration reluctance to broaden its engagement in the Middle East after it recognized that it had blundered with Iraq followed by Obama’s relaxation of tensions with Cuba and his negotiation of a nuclear agreement with Iran demonstrated that sanity sometimes prevailed in the West Wing.

That willingness to be occasionally accommodating has changed dramatically, with the State Department under Mike Pompeo currently more prone to deliver threats than any suggestions that we all might try to get along. It would be reasonable enough to criticize such behavior because it is intrinsically wrong, but the truly frightening aspect of it would appear to be that it is based on the essentially neoconservative assumption that other countries will always back down when confronted with force majeure and that the use of violence as a tool in international relations is, ultimately, consequence free.

I am particularly disturbed with the consequence free part as it in turn is rooted in the belief that countries that have been threatened or even invaded have no collective memory of what occurred and will not respond vengefully when the situation changes. There have been a number of stunningly mindless acts of aggression over the past several weeks that are particularly troubling as they suggest that they will produce many more problems down the road than solutions.

The most recent is the new sanctioning of Russia over the Skripal poisoning in Salisbury England. For those not following developments, last week Washington abruptly and without any new evidence being presented, imposed additional trade sanctions on Russia in the belief that Moscow ordered and carried out the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter Yulia on March 4th. The report of the new sanctions was particularly surprising as Yulia Skripal has recently announced that she intends to return to her home in Russia, leading to the conclusion that even one of the alleged victims does not believe the narrative being promoted by the British and American governments.

Though Russian President Vladimir Putin has responded with restraint, avoiding a tit-for-tat, he is reported to be angry about the new move by the US government and now believes it to be an unreliable negotiating partner. Considering the friendly recent exchanges between Putin and Trump, the punishment of Russia has to be viewed as something of a surprise, suggesting that the president of the United States may not be in control of his own foreign policy.

Turkey is also feeling America’s wrath over the continued detention of an American Protestant Pastor Andrew Brunson by Ankara over charges that he was connected to the coup plotters of 2016, which were allegedly directed by Fetullah Gulen, a Muslim religious leader, who now resides in Pennsylvania. Donald Trump has made the detention the centerpiece of his Turkish policy, introducing sanctions and tariffs that have led in part to a collapse of the Turkish lira and a run on the banking system which could easily lead to default and grave damage to European banks that hold a large party of the country’s debt.

And then there is perennial favorite Iran, which was hit with reinstated sanctions last week and is confronting a ban on oil sales scheduled to go into effect on November 4th. The US has said it will sanction any country that buys Iranian oil after that date, though a number of governments including Turkey, India and China appear to be prepared to defy that demand. Several European countries are reportedly preparing mechanisms that will allow them to trade around US restrictions.

What do Russia, Turkey and Iran have in common? All are on the receiving end of punitive action by the United States over allegations of misbehavior that have not been demonstrated. Nobody has shown that Russia poisoned the Skripals, Turkey just might have a case that the Reverend Brunson was in contact with coup plotters, and Iran is in full compliance with the nuclear arms agreement signed in 2015. One has to conclude that the United States has now become the ultimate angry imperial power, lashing out with the only thing that seems to work – its ability to interfere in and control financial markets – to punish nations that do not play by its rules. Given Washington’s diminishing clout worldwide, it is a situation that is unsustainable and which will ultimately only really punish the American people as the United States becomes more isolated and its imperial overreach bankrupts the nation. As America weakens, Russia, Turkey, Iran and all the other countries that have been steamrolled by Washington will likely seek revenge. To avoid that, a dramatic course correction by the US is needed, but, unfortunately, is unlikely to take place.

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NATO Repeats the Great Mistake of the Warsaw Pact

NATO expansion continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war.

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Authored by Martin Sieff via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Through the 1990s, during the terms of US President Bill Clinton, NATO relentlessly and inexorably expanded through Central Europe. Today, the expansion of that alliance eastward – encircling Russia with fiercely Russo-phobic regimes in one tiny country after another and in Ukraine, which is not tiny at all – continues.

This NATO expansion – which the legendary George Kennan presciently warned against in vain – continues to drive the world the closer towards the threat of thermonuclear war. Far from bringing the United States and the Western NATO allies increased security, it strips them of the certainty of the peace and security they would enjoy if they instead sought a sincere, constructive and above all stable relationship with Russia.

It is argued that the addition of the old Warsaw Pact member states of Central Europe to NATO has dramatically strengthened NATO and gravely weakened Russia. This has been a universally-accepted assumption in the United States and throughout the West for the past quarter century. Yet it simply is not true.

In reality, the United States and its Western European allies are now discovering the hard way the same lesson that drained and exhausted the Soviet Union from the creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 to its dissolution 36 years later. The tier of Central European nations has always lacked the coherence, the industrial base and the combined economic infrastructure to generate significant industrial, financial or most of all strategic and military power.

In fact the current frustrating experience of NATO, and the long, exhausting tribulations that faced Soviet diplomats and generals for so many decades was entirely consistent with the previous historical record going back at least until 1718.

From 1718 until 1867 – a period of a century and a half – most of Central Europe, including even regions of Poland at the end of the 18th century, were consolidated within the Austro –Hungarian Empire, However even then, the Habsburg multi-national empire was always militarily weak and punched beneath its weight. After Emperor Franz Josef recklessly proclaimed his famous Compromise of 1867, the effectiveness of the imperial army was reduced to almost zero. The autonomous and feckless conduct of the Hungarian aristocracy ensured a level of confusion, division, incompetence and ineptitude that was revealed in the army’s total collapse against both Russia and Serbia in the great battles of 1914 at the start of World War I.

Germany moved in to occupy and consolidate the region in both world wars. But far from making Germany a global giant and enabling it to maintain its domination of Europe, the Central European regions – whether as part of Austro-Hungary during World War I or as independent nation-states allied to the Nazis in World War II – proved miniscule and worthless against the alliances of Russia, the United States, Britain and France that the Germans fought against in both global conflicts.

After the Soviet Union militarily destroyed the genocidal military power of Nazi Germany in World War II, Russia’s Great Patriotic War, the political consolidation of East Germany and Poland were strategically necessary for Russia’s security. But occupying and organizing the rest of the region was not. Far from strengthening the Soviet Union, those nations weakened and distracted it. Today, NATO is repeating the Soviet Mistake and that fatal move is inexorably draining the alliance of all its strength and credibility.

NATO is also repeating the disastrous mistake that France made in 1920-21 when it created a “Little Entente” of Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Romania to supposedly counterbalance the revival of Germany. The plan failed completely.

Today those very same nations – enthusiastically joined by Hungary, Poland and the three little Baltic states – are relentlessly distorting both NATO and the EU. They generate weakness and chaos in the alliances they are in – not unity and strength.

As I have noted before in these columns, the great British historian Lord Correlli Barnett drew the important distinction between militarily powerful nations that are generators and exporters of security and those, either tiny or disorganized, pacifist and weak nations that have to import their security from more powerful states.

One might call such small countries “feeder” or “parasite” states. They siphon off energy and strength from their protector partners. They weaken their alliance partners rather than strengthening them.

The consistent lessons of more than 300 years of Central European history are therefore clear: Leading and organizing the tier of Central European nations in the Warsaw Pact did not strengthen the Soviet Union: Instead, those activities relentlessly weakened it.

Incorporating most of the small nations in Central Europe into any empire or alliance has never been a cause or generator of military or national strength, regardless of the ideology or religious faith involved. At best, it is a barometer of national strength.

When nations such as France, Germany, the Soviet Union or the United States are seen as rising powers in the world, the small countries of Central Europe always hasten to ally themselves accordingly. They therefore adopt and discard Ottoman Islamic imperialism. Austrian Christian imperialism, democracy, Nazism, Communism and again democracy as easily as putting on or off different costumes at a fancy dress ball in Vienna or Budapest.

As Russia rises once again in global standing and national power, supported by its genuinely powerful allies China, India and Pakistan in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the nations of Central Europe can be anticipated to reorient their own loyalties accordingly once again.

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Why Russia will NOT fall victim to emerging markets financial crisis (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 81.

Alex Christoforou

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As the Turkish Lira collapses, sending emerging market economies into turmoil, Russia is being slapped with additional US sanctions dubbed the US Congress ‘bill from hell’.

The full text the newest sanctions bill has been released. The sanctions are deliberately designed to punish Russia’s economy for a Skripal poisoning hoax for which no evidence of Russian state involvement has been presented. The new bill even goes so far as to suggest designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The “sanctions bill from hell” officially entitled ‘Defending American Security from Kremlin Aggression Act of 2018’ was introduced by a group of Republican and Democratic senators on the 2nd of August.

According to RT, the bill would place restrictions on US cooperation with Russia’s oil industry, target Russian sovereign debt transactions as well as Russian uranium imports. In addition, the legislation calls for sanctions against “political figures, oligarchs, and other persons that facilitate illicit and corrupt activities, directly or indirectly, on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris explain why, unlike the financial meltdown in Turkey, Russia is well equipped and properly prepared to weather the US sanctions storm… and may, in the end, come out of the latest emerging markets turmoil stronger and more independent from western petrodollar control than ever before.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via RT

The bill, which was recently published in full on Congress’ official website, also pledges full support for NATO and would require a two-thirds majority vote in the Senate if the United States ever wishes to exit the transatlantic alliance.

The legislation also declares that “the United States will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation” and that Washington, in conjunction with NATO, should “prioritize efforts to prevent the further consolidation of illegal occupying powers in Crimea.”

The pending ‘Kremlin Aggression Act’ decrees that Congress should also determine whether Russia “meets the criteria for designation as a state sponsor of terrorism.”

The bill also accused Russia of “enabling the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria to commit war crimes,” adding that Moscow has shown itself to be “incapable or unwilling” to compel Assad to “stop using chemical weapons against the civilian population in Syria.”

The Act calls for a congressional committee to investigate “alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity attributable to [Russia]” and resolves to “punish the Government of the Russian Federation for, and deter that Government from, any chemical weapons production and use through the imposition of sanctions, diplomatic isolation, and the use of the mechanisms specified in the Chemical Weapons Convention for violations of the Convention.”

The legislation is just the latest addition to a laundry list of sanctions and laws passed in the months following the 2016 presidential election.

Republican hawk Lindsey Graham (South Carolina) and Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), who both sponsored the bill, said in a joint statement that the legislation is designed to show that the US will “not waver in our rejection of [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] effort to erode western democracy as a strategic imperative for Russia’s future.” The Russia-obsessed Senator John McCain (R-Arizona) was one of the five co-sponsors of the bill.

Moscow has brushed off the new wave of accusations as a projection of internal US struggle. Some elements in the US government are trying to “keep afloat” the conspiracy that Russia meddled in the US elections, in hopes of derailing constructive relations with Moscow and using the issue “purely for internal American purposes,” Senator Konstantin Kosachev, who chairs the Upper House Committee for International Relations, has said in response to the latest sanctions.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the adoption of any US legislation that targets Russian banking operations and currency trade would be considered a declaration of economic war.

“If they introduce something like a ban on banking operations or the use of any currency, we will treat it as a declaration of economic war. And we’ll have to respond to it accordingly – economically, politically, or in any other way, if required,” Medvedev said last week. “Our American friends should make no mistake about it.”

Moscow has vowed to respond to any new sanctions. Russia’s Finance Ministry said it would continue to sell off its holdings of US Treasury securities, while some lawmakers have called for Russia and its allies to stop using the US dollar for mutual payments.

 

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