IAAF president makes U-turn on punishment for Russia after report shed light on a doping culture in Russian athletics
Russia should be suspended from athletics after being accused of a ‘state-supported’ doping programme that sabotaged the London Olympics.
That is the recommendation of an explosive 323-page report published by an independent commission appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to investigate claims of widespread abuse of performance-enhancing drugs in Russian athletics.
The gold and bronze medallists from the women’s 800 metres at London 2012 — Mariya Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova — are among known cheats now being recommended for life bans.
The report says: ‘As a result of this widespread inaction, the Olympic Games in London were, in a sense, sabotaged by the admission of athletes who should have not been competing, and could have been prevented from competing.’
The commission, led by former anti-drugs chief Dick Pound, said there was enough time for Russia to ‘get their house in order’ before next year’s Olympics in Rio, but IAAF president Lord Coe confirmed that the governing body had begun ‘considering sanctions’. Russia have until the end of the week to respond.
There was the ‘intentional and malicious destruction’ of more than 1400 samples by Moscow laboratory officials last year after receiving written notification from WADA to preserve target samples.
The same infamous Moscow testing laboratory must lose its accreditation and its director, Grigory Rodchenko, who is accused of asking for and accepting bribes and intentionally destroying samples he was told to keep, be removed from his position.
Under-cover officers from the Russian secret police – the FSB – had infiltrated both the Moscow lab and the lab at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, posing as lab engineers and imposing ‘an atmosphere of intimidation on laboratory process and staff’.
Russia’s anti-doping agency gave athletes advance notice of tests, hid missed tests, bullied doping control officers and their families and took bribes to cover up missed tests.
Russian athletes who did not want to participate in ‘the programme’ were told they would not be selected.
Athletes who clearly were willing participants were ‘unwilling to participate’ in the independent commission’s investigation.
Five athletes, four coaches and one doctor not previously the subject of disciplinary proceedings are now facing sanctions. It confirmed allegations that some Russian doctors and laboratory personnel acted as enablers for systematic cheating along with athletics coaches.
Data and information that demonstrates ‘criminal conduct’ has been handed over to Interpol.
There were ‘systemic failures’ in the IAAF that prevent an ‘effective’ anti-doping programme.
An independent IAAF anti-doping unit should now be formed.
On Sunday Coe said he was not in favour of a blanket ban and on Monday night, Pound criticised the double Olympic champion for making such a bold declaration before the publication of the report.
‘To keep my powder dry would have been my recommendation if he’d asked me what he should be doing,’ Pound said of Coe. ‘You’ve got to know something is coming. You’ve got to know with the leak of the Diack stuff that this is now some serious s**t.’
Coe performed an embarrassing U-turn on Monday.
A Russian athletics federation spokesman described the report as a ‘political hit-job’.
Mutko, who is also a member of the infamous FIFA executive committee and was once exposed for claiming five breakfasts a day on expenses while on duty for the International Olympic Committee, announced that the commission does ‘not have the right to suspend anyone’. He also threatened to cut all government funding for anti-doping.
The WADA report accuses Mutko of being complicit in the programme. He responded by saying: ‘If we have to close this whole system, we would be happy because we will only save money’. Rather worryingly, Mutko is also the head of the organising committee for the next World Cup.
On Monday, the Russian Ministry of Sport issued a statement saying: ‘We are fully aware of the problems in the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) and we have undertaken measures to remedy the situation: there is a new president in ARAF, a new head coach, and they are currently rejuvenating the coaching staff. Russia has been and will continue to be fully committed to the fight against doping in sport.’
Rodchenkov, the lab director, denied any wrongdoing and said he would not stand down.
Pound praised the whistleblowers for their courage and said WADA were ‘attacking a problem that has the potential to destroy sport’.