As reported by Censor.NET citing The New York Times, Russia is for the first time conceding that its officials carried out one of the biggest conspiracies in sports history: a far-reaching doping operation that implicated scores of Russian athletes, tainting not just the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi but also the entire Olympic movement.
"It was an institutional conspiracy," Anna Antseliovich, the acting director general of Russia's national antidoping agency, said of years' worth of cheating schemes, while emphasizing that the government's top officials were not involved.
A lab director tampered with urine samples at the Olympics and provided cocktails of performance-enhancing drugs, corrupting some of the world's most prestigious competitions. Members of the Federal Security Service, a successor to the K.G.B., broke into sample bottles holding urine. And a deputy sports minister for years ordered cover-ups of top athletes' use of banned substances.
Ms. Antseliovich, who has not been directly implicated in the investigations, said she was shocked by the revelations.
Vitaly Smirnov, 81, a top sports official whose career dates to the Soviet era and who was appointed this year by Mr. Putin to reform the nation's antidoping system, said he did not want "to speak for the people responsible." Mr. Smirnov said he had not met most of the individuals implicated in a report by Mr. McLaren - emphasizing that they had been dismissed as a result - nor did he know where they were.
"From my point of view, as a former minister of sport, president of Olympic committee - we made a lot of mistakes," he said, echoing Mr. Putin's broad denials of a state-sponsored system and noting that he would defer to the global governing bodies of each sport to rule on the evidence.
"We have to find those reasons why young sportsmen are taking doping, why they agree to be doped," Mr. Smirnov said, expressing eagerness to move forward rather than assign responsibility for previous violations.
But even as he and other officials signaled their acceptance of the fundamental findings of Mr. McLaren's investigation, they were largely unconciliatory, suggesting that cheating to benefit Russia had served to offset what they perceived as preferential treatment for Western nations by global sports authorities.
"Have you seen the Fancy Bear records?" Mr. Smirnov said, invoking medical records hacked by a cyberespionage group believed to be associated with G.R.U., the Russian military intelligence agency suspected of hacking computers at the Democratic National Committee. The medical records revealed that hundreds of Western athletes had been given special medical permission to take banned drugs for legitimate therapeutic reasons.
"Russia never had the opportunities that were given to other countries," Mr. Smirnov said.
"The general feeling in Russia is that we didn't have a chance," he added, acknowledging that anabolic steroids like those taken by Russian athletes have never been deemed medically excusable by regulators.
Russia's drastic shift in tone may be motivated by a desire to reconcile with the regulators, who have stipulated that the nation accept the findings of the recent investigation before the country is recertified to conduct drug testing and be a host again of Olympic competitions.
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