MONTREAL: Professor Richard H McLaren has been appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency as independent head of the investigation into allegations of sample-switching at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games of 2014.

Allegations concerning the Games were published by CBS 60 Minutes and The New York Times on May 8 and 12 respectively based on interviews with Grigory Rodchenkov, former head of the Moscow dope-test laboratory, and whistleblower Vitaly Stepanov.

McLaren was also one of WADA’s three-person panel, led by founding president Richard W. Pound, which exposed widespread doping in Russian athletics, again after media allegations.

A WADA statement said: “Professor McLaren will work independently, and be supported by the multi-disciplinary team that has been established. He has significant experience in the world of international sports law, including being a longstanding member of the Court of Arbitration for Sport .”

Rodchenkov and Stepanov had both indicated that, in light of a perceived conflict of interest — given that the allegations relate to the Sochi Olympics and that WADA is funded by the International Olympic Committee – they would speak only to an independent person.

WADA president Sir Craig Reedie said: “I felt that it was in the best interest of clean athletes that we obtain the evidence as quickly as possible.

“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.”

David Howman, WADA’s director-general, added: “Once the investigation is concluded, WADA will publish a full report and make available all pertinent evidence.

“If it is found that there have been violations of the World Anti-Doping Code, WADA will ensure that individuals or organizations concerned are dealt with in an appropriate fashion.”

With the independent oversight of McLaren, the investigation team will be led by WADA’s Mathieu Holz, who is a former Major of the French Gendarmerie and INTERPOL Agent.