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New drug claims rock Russia ahead of key Olympic decision

A Spanish court's decision to allow authorities access to blood bags related to a doping investigation comes over three years after an initial ruling ordering the bags' destruction. PHOTO/AFP.

A Spanish court’s decision to allow authorities access to blood bags related to a doping investigation comes over three years after an initial ruling ordering the bags’ destruction. PHOTO/AFP.

LOS ANGELES, United States, June 15 – Hundreds of attempts to carry out drug tests on Russian athletes this year have been thwarted, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said Wednesday, in a bombshell report issued just days before a key decision on the country’s participation at the Olympic Games.

In a damning 23-page summary, WADA said more than 736 tests between February 15 and May 29 were declined or cancelled for a variety of reasons ranging from sample collection or athlete whereabouts.

The report said doping control officers had also faced intimidation and threats of expulsion from the country by armed government agents when attempting to carry out drug tests in military cities.

Military cities were often given as a place of residence by athletes seeking to avoid drug testers because of the difficulty in gaining access to the areas, the report said.

In another passage, the report detailed how one track and field athlete had been caught trying to provide a urine sample using a container inserted into her body.

“When she tried to use the container it leaked onto the floor and not into the collection vessel,” the report stated.

The athlete subsequently threw away the container and then attempted to bribe the doping control officer.

Other examples of obstruction occurred during an athletics event.

One athlete was seen running away from a mixed zone in an effort to avoid being taken to doping control by a chaperone.

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Another athlete exited a stadium during a race and subsequently could not be found, the report said.

The WADA report comes just two days before the International Association of Athletics Federations is due to give its long-awaited decision on whether athletes from Russia are allowed to compete in August’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The IAAF suspended Russia from competition in November after a WADA report which detailed a systemic doping program and corruption by sports officials.

In its bid to overturn the ban, Russia has announced a raft of reforms including the introduction of compulsory anti-doping classes in schools to reform attitudes toward the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Russia’s anti-doping agency RUSADA will develop a special curriculum, based on WADA guidelines, for the 3,000 sports schools where the country’s elite athletes train.

However the details from Wednesday’s WADA report will cast fresh doubt on the effectiveness of Russian attempts to clean up their sporting culture.

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