WADA seeks more independence for Sochi investigation team

Earlier this week, the IOC said it would start re-testing samples from the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.

FILE: US Kate Hansen gestures during a Women Luge training session at the Sanki Sliding Centre in Rosa Khutor on February 8, 2014, during the Sochi Winter Olympics. Picture: AFP.

MONTREAL - The World Anti-Doping Agency named Richard McLaren to lead an independent investigation into allegations of a doping cover-up at the Sochi Olympics on Thursday following concerns about a conflict of interest.

The Canadian law professor and sports lawyer was a member of WADA's three-person independent commission which last year which exposed widespread doping and corruption in Russian athletics.

WADA President Sir Craig Reedie appointed McLaren after at least three people voiced concerns about a conflict of interest given that the allegations relate to the Sochi Olympics and that WADA is funded by the International Olympic Committee.

Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Russia's anti-doping agency who said that the Sochi lab tampered with samples, Vitaly Stepanov, the whistleblower who gave key evidence in the Russian athletics scandal, and Beckie Scott, chair of WADA's athletes committee, all expressed a need for transparency.

"Given the sentiments expressed by many of a perceived conflict of interest, we did what's necessary to follow through on our commitment to get to the bottom of these allegations; while, seeing that impartiality and transparency prevail," Reedie said in a statement.

WADA had announced on Tuesday that Mathieu Holz, a former Major of the French Gendarmerie and Interpol agent, would head its probe into allegations of a major doping cover-up at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

McLaren will work independently and be supported by the multi-disciplinary team led by Holz.

Earlier this week, the IOC said it would start re-testing samples from the 2014 Sochi Winter Games after allegations of tarnished samples were made last week by Rodchenkov.