RIO DE JANEIRO — Fallout from the Russian doping scandal has provoked a public dispute among global sports officials, further fueling a controversy that has threatened to overshadow the start of the Rio Games this week.
On Sunday, the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, blamed the global antidoping watchdog for mishandling accusations that Russia had executed an elaborate cheating scheme dating back years. Mr. Bach said at a news conference here that the antidoping organization’s slow response had put sports officials in a bind so close to the Summer Olympics.
The antidoping group, the World Anti-Doping Agency, responded publicly on Monday, defending itself in a statement.
The Olympic committee and WADA, which share top officials, rarely make grievances public. WADA receives half of its money from the Olympic organization, and WADA’s president, Craig Reedie, also sits on the executive board of the Olympic committee.
Critics have questioned whether sports officials with such dual ties have the political will to unearth doping violations that could tarnish the Olympic brand, and, before Mr. Bach’s remarks this week, WADA had faced criticism for taking years to pursue tips from Russian whistle-blowers.
Last month, WADA published a report that confirmed details first published in The New York Times of a dark-of-night doping scheme at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the director of the drug-testing laboratory at the 2014 Sochi Games, said that with the help of Russia’s intelligence service, Russia’s WADA-accredited lab had substituted steroid-laced urine samples and had evaded the detection of antidoping authorities.
The recent report, the product of a two-month investigation led by the Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, referred to forensic evidence and computer records that had corroborated Dr. Rodchenkov’s detailed account of subverting antidoping controls, and showed such behavior had extended well beyond Sochi, and across sports.
Last month, with that evidence in hand, WADA called on the Olympic committee to bar Russia from the Rio Games. For what is believed to be the first time since he has had top roles in both organizations, Mr. Reedie abstained from the Olympic vote on that decision.
The Olympic committee did not follow WADA’s recommendation. Instead, it deferred to individual sport federations to evaluate the eligibility of Russian athletes ahead of the Rio Games. The committee named a three-person panel that will have final review of the federations’ decisions this week.
“They’re trying to deflect all of this by pointing fingers at WADA,” Richard W. Pound, former president of WADA and former Olympic committee executive board member, said in an interview on Monday. Last year, Mr. Pound published a report that accused Russia of state-sponsored doping among track and field athletes. (Track and field’s governing body unanimously in June voted to bar Russian athletes from Rio, and, with Dr. Rodchenkov’s testimony, those accusations spread more significantly across sports.)
“This could have easily been avoided if the I.O.C. had followed WADA’s recommendation to bar Russia,” Mr. Pound said. “It was a golf ball sitting up on there on a tee ready to be hit.”
Mr. Bach’s news conference on Sunday was intended to focus on preparations for the Games. Instead, nearly every question posed to him pertained to the Russian doping crisis and the Olympic committee’s response to it. Mr. Bach refused to share any responsibility for failing to scrutinize Russia’s behavior sooner.
“The I.O.C. cannot be made responsible,” Mr. Bach said. “Neither for the timing nor for the reasons of these incidents.” He emphasized that WADA, which was founded by the Olympic committee in the late 1990s and wholly funded by the committee for its first two years, had sole authority to inspect and certify antidoping labs.
“The International Olympic Committee is not responsible for the timing of the McLaren report,” Mr. Bach said this week, referring to the inquiry into Dr. Rodchenkov’s story.
Mr. Reedie said on Monday that the timing was unavoidable, a function of when Dr. Rodchenkov had chosen to speak out.
“While it is destabilizing in the lead-up to the Games,” Mr. Reedie said, “it is obvious, given the seriousness of the revelations that he uncovered, that they had to be published and acted upon without delay.”
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