This Just In: Russian Anti-Doping Lab's Accreditation Suspended

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

We’re following this story and will update it as we learn more:

The move comes a day after an independent committee of the World Anti-Doping Agency accused Russia of effectively having a state-sponsored dope program for its athletes. Some background on the agency:

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was created in 1999 to systematize and enforce a long list of prohibited performance-enhancing drugs and practices. … WADA generally prohibits something if it meets at least two of three criteria:

  • it improves athletic performance
  • it violates what WADA calls "the spirit of sport"
  • it poses a health risk to athletes

The need to protect elite athletes from themselves is real. In surveys administered between 1982 and 1995, half of elite athletes said they would take an undetectable PED if doing so meant they would win an Olympic gold medal, even if the drug were guaranteed to kill them within five years. When that hypothetical was posed to 250 normal Australians, less than one percent said they would take the gold-then-death drug.