July 18, 2016

Russia's participation in the Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro just weeks away is in serious doubt.

An investigation commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency discovered that Russia's sports ministry "directed, controlled and oversaw" manipulation of athletes' urine samples provided by its athletes.

Russia's state-sponsored doping program "planned and operated" as early as 2011 and manipulated drug testing through the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics until August 2015, according to the investigation, which was released by WADA on Monday.

The bombshell from the report left IOC members stunned and shocked. International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said the Russians' actions were an "unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games."

He promised to levy the "toughest sanctions available."

That punishment could come as early as Tuesday when members of the IOC reconvene in an emergency meeting to address the report.

The former head of Russia's national anti-doping laboratory ignited the firestorm when he claimed he doped dozens of athletes prior to the Sochi Winter Games in 2014.

The Kremlin paints Grigory Rodchenkov as a "scandalous" former official.

Rodchenkov told the New York Times in May that he covered up the use of performance-enhancing drugs by Russian athletes at the behest of the minister of sports.

WADA's investigation allegedly found evidence that Rodchenkov discovered a way to open and reseal supposedly tamper-proof bottles that were used for storing urine samples so the contents could be replaced with "clean" urine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin took a defiant stand on Monday by saying the Kremlin wanted more substantial proof of wrongdoing, but that all officials involved would be suspended.

Putin also intimated that perhaps no one had done anything wrong and that the investigation was an attempt to smear Russia's top athletes.

"Today we see a dangerous relapse of politics intruding into sports," he said in a statement.

Canadian law professor and sports attorney Richard McClaren headed up the investigation at WADA's request.

The New York Times said Monday that during the 57-day probe, McLaren examined forensic evidence, emails and metadata, and met criminal-law standards.

McLaren also confirmed that his team had been in communication with the U.S. Department of Justice, which also was investigating allegations of Russian doping since May of this year.

The investigation involved sending random stored urine samples from "protected Russian athletes" at Sochi 2014 to an anti-doping laboratory in London to see those samples had scratch marks around the necks of the bottles, which would indicate they had been manipulated, according to McLaren.

The results were stunning and show that the doping scandal crossed all Russian Olympic sports.

McLaren said "100 percent of the bottles had been scratched" but added that would "not have been visible to the untrained eye."

When asked how certain he was of his findings, McLaren said he had "unwavering confidence" in all of his results.

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