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Anti-Doping Officials May Call for Russia Ban at Rio Olympics

Despite Doping Scandal, Russia Will Still Compete in Most Sports 1:49

A draft letter from U.S. and Canadian anti-doping authorities recommends Russia be banned from the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro if an upcoming report finds evidence of state-sponsored doping.

The news organization Reuters first reported the draft letter and its contents. The Associated Press also reported the letter and its contents and New York Times reported on the effort, citing email correspondence.

Pat Hickey, president of the European Olympic Committees, in a statement Saturday said he saw an email from Beckie Scott, the chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency athletes commission with the letter attached.

Hickey said the email and letter "has shocked and concerned me on a number of levels" and could compromise the credibility of the report, expected to be presented Monday. "This letter calls upon the IOC to instigate a wholesale ban of the Russian Olympic Committee team in Rio2016," Hickey said.

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U.S. Anti-Doping Agency officials told the AP the letter would only be sent if the report details widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russia. The draft letter calls for the IOC to act by July 26 to ensure that Russia's Olympic Committee and sports federations will not be allowed in Rio de Janeiro, the AP reported. The games are set to start on Aug. 5.

The report followed claims by Russia's former anti-doping director that he ran an organized doping program for Russian athletes at the Sochi Games and helped switch tainted samples for clean ones.

Grigory Rodchenkov told The New York Times that at least 15 Russian athletes relied on doping for their victories during the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

The letter encourages exceptions for Russia-born athletes who can prove they were subject to strong anti-doping systems in other countries, according to the AP.

"It is clear from the e-mail and letter that both the independence and the confidentiality of the report have been compromised," Hickey said the statement Saturday. "My concern is that there seems to have been an attempt to agree an outcome before any evidence has been presented."

The Times reported that anti-doping officials from at least 10 nations and 20 athlete groups have joined, anticipating that Rodchenkov’s claims will be validated. The national anti-doping organizations include the U.S., Canada, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and Spain, the Times reported.

A draft letter seen by Reuters is from U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) CEO Travis Tygart calls for a ban on all Russian athletes.

"The only appropriate, and permissible, course of action in these unprecedented circumstances is for the IOC to immediately suspend the Russian Olympic and Paralympic Committees from the Olympic Movement.... and declare that no athlete can represent Russia at the Rio Olympic Games," the news agency quoted the letter as reading in part.

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Tygart told the AP that at least six national anti-doping agencies backed the letter. He said the letter was not meant to become public unless the upcoming report contained evidence of a major state-sponsored doping program.

"We always want universal inclusion at the Olympic Games, but we can’t be blind to the evidence before us, and if we — as those who cherish the Olympic values — are not preparing for all potential outcomes, then we are not fulfilling our promise to clean athletes," Tygart said in a statement to Reuters.

After the Times published Rodchenkov’s claims in May, two Russian Olympic champions mentioned in the article denied doping. Cross-country skier Alexander Legkov called the claims “totally absurd.”

Russian Federation Deputy Sports Minister Yury Nagornykh at that time also denied a doping program. “There is no doping program in the Russian Federation, and there never was one,” he said.

Russia has been battling allegations of institutionalized doping use since late 2014, based mostly on whistleblower reports by ex-athletes. President Vladimir Putin has personally admitted the problem, though denied the use of doping was state-sanctioned.

Already, track's governing body, the IAAF, has suspended Russia's track team from the Olympics after a separate investigation turned up evidence of a state-sponsored doping system used to benefit that team. The Court of Arbitration for Sport is expected to rule July 21 on the eligibility of 68 Russian athletes who have appealed to compete in Rio.