Russia Could Be Banned From Rio Olympics Amid Massive Doping Scandal

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The 2016 Olympics already are dealing with a host of problems. But there’s a chance Russia’s athletes won’t even make it to Rio to find this out firsthand.

The World Anti-Doping Agency released a bombshell report Monday concluding that Russian authorities deliberately tried to cover up their athletes’ use of performance-enhancing drugs at the 2014 Sochi Olympics by swapping out and manipulating urine samples.

The report, produced by Toronto lawyer Richard McLaren, corroborates a May story published by the New York Times, which reported that a number of Russian athletes engaged in doping during the 2014 Games will the full knowledge and consent of national authorities.

The implications of McLaren’s report are huge — Russia led all nations at the 2014 Olympics with 33 total medals (13 gold), meaning there’s a good chance many athletes from other countries were competing against unfair competition and got cheated out of medals.

According to McLaren’s report, the cover-up was shockingly widespread.

The International Olympic Committee has yet to take action, but IOC president Thomas Bach said, via Reuters, that McLaren’s report revealed a “shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sport and on the Olympic Games.”

Russia’s athletes should fear the worst, as the World Anti-Doping Agency urged the IOC to ban the country from the Olympics altogether. The IOC doesn’t appear to be ruling anything out in the way of punishment, too.

“The IOC will not hesitate to take the toughest sanctions available against any individual or organization implicated,” Bach said.

An entire nation being banned isn’t completely unprecedented, as South Africa was barred from competing in the Olympics from 1964 to 1988 while the nation was under apartheid. Opening Ceremonies for the Rio Olympics will be held Aug. 5.

Thumbnail photo via Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports Images

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