10 Nov 2015

Anti-doping commission wants Russia banned from athletics

11:14 am on 10 November 2015

Russia should be banned from athletics competition because of widespread doping offences, the World Anti-Doping Agency has recommended, in a move that could see the powerhouse Russian team excluded from next year's Rio Olympics.

WADA president Dick Pound.

WADA president Dick Pound. Photo: AFP

The commission, set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), found a "deeply rooted culture of cheating" in Russian athletics.

It also identified what it called systemic failures in the global governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

The international police body Interpol said it would coordinate a global investigation into suspected corruption and doping in athletics.

The commission said in its report that the London 2012 Olympics had been "sabotaged" by the widespread inaction of international and national anti-doping authorities.

"For 2016 our recommendation is that the Russian Federation be suspended, in fact one of our hopes is that they will volunteer that, so that they can take the remedial work in time to make sure that Russian athletes can compete under a new framework if you like," Dick Pound, president of WADA, told a news conference in Geneva.

Mr Pound said Russia seemed to have been running a "state-supported" doping programme and also gave his backing to IAAF president Sebastian Coe, saying he was the right man to lead the governing body.

Russia finished second behind the United States in the medal table at the 2012 Olympics, with 17 medals, eight of them gold, and has long been one of the chief players in track and field.

The scandal revolves around accusations that money was demanded from top athletes to 'bury' medical tests from Russian athletes that showed drug use to enhance performance.

Russia's anti-doping chief Nikita Kamaev, head of the agency RUSADA, said the allegations were groundless.

Acting president of the Russian Athletics Federation, Vadim Zelichenok told Reuters WADA had no powers to exclude Russian sportsment from competition. "Secondly, it is only a recommendation...But I cannot say if the IAAF will follow this recommendation."

The IAAF, which has been engulfed in a crisis spanning alleged corruption, bribery and widespread doping cover-ups, said steps would be taken to ban the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF).

'International' scandal

German journalist Hajo Seppelt, whose documentary blew the lid on widespread doping amongst Russian athletes, said he used undercover whistleblowers and found a very clear picture of the extent of drug abuse in Russian athletics

"I could record conversations with athletes, with officials, with doctors, with coaches where they admitted drug abuse and talked about doping substances and doping methods and how to cover it up," he told Nine to Noon.

For him, the most the most serious aspect is allegations of bribery against IAAF officials.

"That is really the most serious scandal from my point of view ... this leads the scale of the whole problem from the Russian to an international level."

Last week former IAAF president Lamine Diack was charged with corruption on suspicion of taking bribes to cover up doping cases.

The 82-year-old Senegalese is alleged to have received over one million euros in bribes in 2011 to cover up positive doping tests by Russian athletes, the office of France's financial prosecutor said.

The commission's report said the London 2012 Olympic had been "sabotaged" by the "widespread inaction" of the IAAF, ARAF and the Russian anti-doping agency (RUSADA) for allowing tainted athletes to compete.

Key findings

The report's co-author, sports lawyer Richard McLaren, believes it shows "a different scale of corruption", even compared with football's ongoing Fifa scandal, saying actual results at international athletics competitions had been changed because of cheating. The report also:

  • Revealed many instances of inadequate testing and poor compliance around testing standards.
  • Suggested that neither the Russian athletics federation (Araf), the Russian anti-doping agency (Rusada), nor the Russian Federation can be considered anti-doping code-compliant.
  • Recommended that Wada withdraw its accreditation of the Moscow laboratory as soon as possible and advocated the permanent removal of its director Grigory Rodchenko, whom it accuses of asking for and accepting bribes and intentionally destroying samples he was told to keep.
  • Confirmed allegations that some Russian doctors and/or laboratory personnel acted as enablers for systematic cheating along with athletics coaches.
  • Identified the intentional and malicious destruction of more than 1,400 samples by Moscow laboratory officials after receiving written notification from Wada to preserve target samples.
  • Said that Russian security service FSB were present at the Moscow and Sochi labs and that this was part of a wider pattern of "direct intimidation and interference by the Russian state with the Moscow laboratory operations."
  • Found that Rusada gave athletes advance notice of tests, hid missed tests, bullied doping control officers and their families and took bribes to cover up missed tests.
  • Found that a number of Russian athletes suspected of doping could have been prevented from competing at the London 2012 Olympics had it not been for "the collective and inexplicable laissez-faire policy" adopted by the IAAF and the Russian athletics federation.

- Reuters / BBC

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