In this March 13, 2017, file photo, Lawyer Richard McLaren, investigator and report author for the world anti-doping agency , WADA, delivers his speech addressing his findings on Russian State-Sponsored doping systems during the opening day of the 2017 world anti-doping agency annual symposium, at the Swiss Tech Convention Center, in Lausanne, Switzerland. (VALENTIN FLAURAUD / KEYSTONE VIA AP)
LIMA, Peru — The World Anti-Doping Agency has dismissed all but one of the first 96 Russian doping cases forwarded its way from sports federations acting on information that exposed cheating in the country.
The cases stem from an investigation by Richard McLaren, who was tasked with detailing evidence of a scheme to hide doping positives at the Sochi Olympics and beforehand.
The 95 dismissed cases, first reported by The New York Times , were described by WADA officials as not containing enough hard evidence to result in solid cases.
"It's absolutely in line with the process, and frankly, it's nothing unexpected," WADA director general Olivier Niggli told The Associated Press on Wednesday at meetings of the International Olympic Committee. "The first ones were the quickest to be dealt with, because they're the ones with the least evidence."
If you can prosecute an athlete with a name on a list, perfect. But this is not the reality. There were thousands of samples destroyed in Moscow
Olivier Niggli, WADA director general
McLaren uncovered 1,000 potential cases, however, and a WADA spokesperson told AP it is the agency's understanding that sports federations are considering bringing some of them forward.
Niggli cautioned that it will be difficult to pursue some cases, because the Russian scheme involved disposing of tainted samples, and the Russians were not cooperative with McLaren in turning over evidence.
"There are a thousand names, and for a number of them, the only thing McLaren's got is a name on a list," Niggli said. "If you can prosecute an athlete with a name on a list, perfect. But this is not the reality. There were thousands of samples destroyed in Moscow."
The revelation of the 95 dropped cases comes with a deadline fast approaching to make a decision on Russia's participation at next February's Winter Olympics.
Two IOC committees that will decide the matter — one reviewing individual cases and another looking at the overall corruption in Russia — are due to deliver interim reports at the IOC meetings later this week.
In resolving the case against Russia's suspended anti-doping agency (RUSADA), WADA has insisted the agency, the country's Olympic committee and its sports ministry "publically accept the outcomes of the McLaren Investigation." Track's governing body put similar conditions in place for the lifting of the track team's suspension.
The IOC, however, has made no such move. More than 270 Russian athletes were cleared to compete in the Summer Games last year in Rio.
"The best we can do to protect clean athletes is to have a really good, solid anti-doping process in Russia," said WADA president Craig Reedie, who is also a member of the IOC. "That's our role and our priority. The rest of it, you have to go and ask the IOC."
IOC president Thomas Bach said the committees are "working hard all the time."
Meanwhile, Russian officials are showing no signs of acknowledging they ran a state-sponsored doping program.
This week, the country's deputy prime minister, Vitaly Mutko, blamed RUSADA and the former head of the Russian anti-doping lab, Grigory Rodchenkov, for the corruption, and suggested WADA was at fault, too. Rodchenkov lives in hiding in the United States after revealing details of the plot .
"We are rearranging the system but it should be rearranged so that WADA could also share responsibility," Mutko told Russia's R-Sport news agency. "They should have been responsible for (Rodchenkov) before, as they have issued him a license and given him a work permit. They were in control of him but now the state is blamed for it."