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Doping scandal: Russians home free

Entry of the World Andti Doping Agency in Montreal REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) says it will clear 95 Russian athletes investigated over involvement in the country's alleged doping programmer. A leaked  report published by the the New York Times shows that the agency found it could not gather enough evidence against 95 out of 96 Russian athletes under investigation.

The report, that is predated 24 September, says that the “international federations” taking part in the investigation found “insufficient evidence to assert anti-doping rule violations" and that "The available evidence was insufficient to support the assertion of an anti-doping rule violation against these 95 athletes."

However, the report admitted that a key witness, Dr Grigory Rodchenkov, who ran Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory from 2005 to 2015 when he fled the country, “was unavailable to testify due to circumstances beyond Wada’s control.”

No hearing with this crucial witness is foreseen in the near future, the report added.

The report did not name any of the athletes under investigation.

A string of Wada reports has previously uncovered reams of evidence that the Russian authorities ran a large-scale programme to help competitors cheat international doping tests.

Russia's Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada) was declared "non-compliant" with international sport's anti-doping code in November 2015 and its track and field Olympics squad and entire Paralympics team were barred from Rio 2016.

An independent investigation for the agency by Professor Richard McLaren in 2016 implicated some 1,000 athletes in the doping system.

Moscow has always denied that it ran a state-sponsored scheme to manipulate international sporting events.

Rusada is currently battling to get itself reinstated. But in order to be readmitted, it has to fulfil a heavy list of Wada criteria.