Russia’s Olympic wrestling team has reported “tens” of doping cases which could rule top athletes out of the games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
The announcement adds to the pressure on Russian sport, which has already been shaken by a widespread doping scandal in track and field, as well as failed drug tests for athletes including Maria Sharapova.
“The epidemic of doping is like a catastrophe,” the head of the Russian Sports Wrestling Federation, Mikhail Mamiashvili, said in comments reported by newspaper Sport Express.
“Of course I don’t even want to say this, but it could happen that we don’t have anyone left to go the Olympics.” Russia is the dominant world power in wrestling and the absence of its top athletes could shake up the overall medal table for the Olympics in Rio.
Mamiashvili declined to name the wrestlers who had tested positive, but told state news agencies there were “several tens” of cases.
While he did not say which banned substance or substances had caused the wrestlers to fail drug tests, Russia has seen a large number of failed tests in other sports for the endurance-booster meldonium, which was banned as of Jan. 1.
There have also been six failed tests for meldonium in the national wrestling team of neighboring Georgia, including one for Olympic silver medalist Davit Modzmanashvili, who faces a possible life ban for a second career offense.
Russia finished top of the medal table in wrestling at the Olympics in London in 2012 and won seven gold medals at the European championships earlier this month.