Speculation that Russia's athletes might be banned from the Rio Olympics has just ramped up after an independent doping investigation found the Russians cheated during their own Sochi Olympics in 2014—and in events beyond that, the AP reports. Canadian law professor Richard McLaren was picked by the World Anti-Doping Agency in May to head a probe after the former head of Moscow's anti-doping lab told the New York Times he gave Russian athletes steroids, then helped swap out "dirty" urine samples for clean ones, the Globe and Mail reports—all under the direction of Russia's Ministry of Sport, which oversaw the elaborate switcheroo, McLaren announced Monday in Toronto. "The surprise result … was the revelation of the extent of State oversight and directed control of the Moscow laboratory in processing, and covering up urine samples of Russian athletes from virtually all sports before and after the Sochi Games," McLaren writes in the report, adding he's "unwaveringly confident" in its findings, per the New York Times.
The process that McLaren calls the "disappearing positive methodology" produced more than 300 false results and didn't just affect the Sochi Olympics: The report noted these results spanned from 2011 all the way through last year's world swimming championships and included other events such as 2013's world track championships held in Moscow. Ex-lab director Grigory Rodchenkov, who the BBC notes is now in hiding in the US, says the country took advantage of its hosting privileges to pull off the scheme and that the Russian secret service even helped out. Russia's track and field athletes are already prohibited from competing as part of the Russian team (they can compete as "neutrals" if they're found to be clean) in the Rio competition, which kicks off Aug. 5, but these latest revelations could make things a lot worse: A Russian news site notes McLaren's report could herald "the most difficult week in the history of Russian sport," per the BBC. (Read more Olympics stories.)