Suggestions that the release of draft letters urging Russia's total ban from the Olympics have compromised the investigation into Russian doping are nonsense, an international anti-doping leader said Sunday.
The Institute of National Anti-Doping Agencies is one of a handful of anti-doping and athletes' groups to draft letters calling for the ban. They plan to send the letters to the International Olympic Committee only if the investigation, due out Monday, reveals evidence of state-sponsored doping throughout Russian sports.
A group of Olympic leaders, including IOC members and swimming's international federation, have released statements suggesting that the draft letters have undermined the credibility of investigator Richard McLaren's report.
"It is very disappointing to see prominent Olympic stakeholders attempting to get another family member banned from the Olympic Games in this rather underhand way," said Spyros Capralos, president of Greece's Olympic committee.
But iNADO CEO Joseph de Pencier said his organization has neither communicated with McLaren nor tried to influence his work; he said he had no knowledge of any iNADO members contacting McLaren, either.
The back-and-forth this weekend about the draft letters illustrates the stakes of McLaren's report and the IOC's reaction to it.
Anti-doping leaders and groups of athletes are calling for a full Russian ban from the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro if McLaren's report substantiates and expands on preliminary findings that already have been released. Meanwhile, IOC president Thomas Bach says a balance must be struck between "collective responsibility and individual justice."
Preliminary findings from the report, released in June as part of a probe into the Russian track team, which already has been suspended from the games, said there was "mandatory state-directed manipulation of laboratory analytical results operating within" the Moscow anti-doping lab from at least 2011 through the summer of 2013. Those findings also said Russia's "Ministry of Sport advised the laboratory which of its adverse findings it could report to WADA, and which it had to cover up."
The planned Monday release of the report comes 18 days before the start of the Summer Olympics.
A statement sent Sunday by swimming's governing body, FINA, said the iNADO and other letters were "based on the findings of the McLaren Report, which is meant to have been independent and confidential. Such breaches of confidentiality and the perception of a breach of independence of the report undermine its credibility."
Zlatko Matesa, president of Croatia's Olympic Committee, said the "premature" movement to ban Russia "is not in the Olympic spirit and casts a shadow over the integrity of the McLaren report."
But dePencier said iNADO had no more information than anyone else.
"Like iNADO, sport organizations and anti-doping organizations of all sorts have been planning for days for the possibility of the worse-case scenario, and having appropriate responses prepared, hoping they will not be needed," he said.