‘Possibly the biggest turning point’: Canadian athletes react to McLaren report on doping in Russia
CALGARY – Canadian athletes, coaches and politicians reacted with shock, rage and dismay Monday to the bombshell findings of the McLaren report into systematic doping by Russian athletes in Olympic sport.
The report, authored by Canadian sports lawyer Richard McLaren, says Russia implemented a sophisticated doping cover-up system in the aftermath of winning just three gold, five silver and seven bronze medals at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Perhaps not surprisingly, Russia led the medal table four years later at the 2014 Sochi Games with 13 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze.
The McLaren report sent shockwaves across the sporting world Monday.
Here is a sampling of the reaction:
“In the end, like in most things that happen, the athletes — the ones who follow the rules — just become like collateral damage in this mess. And I think that’s the saddest part. It’s just such a shame. There are so many athletes and coaches who believe in clean sport, but it’s all so tarnished by this stuff. With all the scandals surrounding bidding, bribery, the construction of venues and problems with Rio and Sochi, all you hear is this tarnished reputation of the Olympic Games. And the point of it all was supposed to be about the values of global community and acceptance and clean sport and competition.”
— Canadian bobsleigh pilot Helen Upperton, silver medallist at the 2010 Vancouver Games
“This is just what you expect from these guys. It shows that there’s systematic cheating all the time. This is just more proof of how they operate and how they’ve operated for many years … And Russia is one of the top guys, but they’re just a piece of the bigger iceberg. We can’t change the past. We can only look forward to what we can do better in the future. But we have athletes who will always have a bad taste in their mouth. They had a system in Russia that really screwed them up, and they lost out because of it. That’s the hardship.”
— Peter Eriksson, head coach, Athletics Canada
“I think it is important, if not vital, that WADA begins investigatory mandates of other nations with serious doping cultures for two reasons: to continue to combat doping in the name of clean sport and to de-politicize the current conversations surrounding Russia’s systemic doping. I am of the opinion that, if WADA begins investigating other nations, Russia will not be able to continue using the same rhetoric that the `west is doing this as a political attack.’ That is, by investigating others, it validates the efforts done to expose Russia.”
— Canadian race walker Inaki Gomez
“It’s definitely a sad day for sport, but possibly the biggest turning point for sport.”
— Canadian hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser, member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission
“I am profoundly troubled by the evidence presented in the commission’s report of organized manipulation of dirty samples by those running the testing facility, as well as some Russian officials and athletes. The evidence of deeply rooted cheating is extremely upsetting. I remain committed to working with my international colleagues to ensure systemic change is undertaken following the release of this evidence. It is imperative that there are consequences at all levels for those who are cheating the system, not just the athletes.”
— Carla Qualtrough, federal Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities
“I can only imagine how betrayed the clean athletes of the world are feeling today in the face of this evidence.”
— Paul Melia, chief executive officer of the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport
“I just feel a very strong sense of accountability to clean athletes around the world, because I know what it’s like for them. I’ve been there. I understand the sacrifices and the hard work and the tremendous amount of dedication and commitment it takes to become a high-level athlete and to be able to go to the Olympic Games. I want to see every athlete putting in those efforts given the same chance and equal opportunity.”
— Beckie Scott, chair of the World Anti-Doping Agency athletics committee. Scott, of Vermilion, Alta., originally won bronze in cross-country skiing at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics but eventually had that upgraded two gold after two Russians in front of her tested positive for doping.
“At times it’s exceedingly hard to believe in sport. But it’s at times like this, that it’s important we continue to. I’m going paddling,”
— Canadian kayaker Adam van Koeverden