Russia have been given until the end of this week to respond to the publication of today’s report published by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that recommended the country’s athletes be suspended from international competition, which could include next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The deadline has been set by International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe, who admitted he is shocked at claims Russia has been running a “state-supported” doping programme.
The 323-page report from the WADA Independent Commission revealed London 2012 was “sabotaged” by “widespread inaction” against athletes with suspicious doping profiles.
“I want an explanation for the allegations that have been made today,” Coe, the chairman of London 2012, said.
Coe, the double Olympic 1500 metres gold medallist, said that after reviewing the feedback the IAAF “would look at a range of options, including sanctions”, which could result in suspension.
“I’m not putting in a time frame but I will do whatever is necessary,” he said.
“This is not a swift road back,”
In its report, the Commission found that head of Russia’s WADA-accredited laboratory in Moscow, Grigory Rodchenko, intentionally destroyed 1,417 doping samples despite their request to review them.
WADA has recommended lifetime bans for five Russian athletes and five coaches, including Rodchenko.
Two of the athletes were the Olympic gold and bronze-medal winners in the 800 metres at London 2012, Mariya Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova.
Vadim Zelichenok, acting President of the All-Russia Athletics Federation, claimed WADA’s recommendation to ban Russia did not allow them a fair hearing.
“This contradicts the rules,” Zelichenok, criticised in the report by the WADA Independent Commission for being uncooperative and trying to prevent them speaking to athletes, told the R-Sport news agency.
“There is an IAAF Constitution.
“This issue should be considered at the IAAF Council in November.
“We must be given the opportunity to prove our innocence.”
The report, however, threw the credibility of London 2012 into doubt over the actions or inaction of the IAAF, the ARAF and Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), the Commission admitted.
It said: “The IC (Independent Commission) has noted a cumulative lapse of action from the IAAF, ARAF and Rusada in conjunction with pursuing suspicious profiles.
“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, were it not for the collective and inexplicable laissez-fair
Pound warned that they were looking for Russia to demonstrate its willingness to change and take anti-doping as seriously as most of the rest of the world did.
“One of our hopes is they will volunteer to take the remedial work,” he said.
“I hope they recognise it is time to change.
“The outcome may be that there are no Russian track-and-field athletes in Rio.
“If they do the surgery and do the therapy, I hope that they can get there.
“Sometimes, if the conduct is such and it’s not corrected, that’s the price you pay for it.”
Due to the ongoing nature of criminal prosecutions, part of the report dealing with alleged corruption at the IAAF, including the allegation that former President Lamine Diack accepted bribes to cover up doping cases involving Russian athletes, has not been made publicly available for now.
The report still confirmed, though, it had identified “corruption and bribery practices at the highest levels of international athletics”.
The International Olympic Committee claimed they found WADA’s report “deeply shocking” and promised it will “take all necessary measures” with regards to Russia’s misconduct.
“This is a deeply shocking report and very saddening for the world of sport,” the IOC said in a statement.
“The protection of the clean athletes is a top priority for the International Olympic Committee.
“This is why in Olympic Agenda 2020 the IOC has undertaken far reaching measures in this commitment.
“With regard to the Olympic Games, the IOC will continue to take whatever measures needed to safeguard clean athletes, clean sport and good governance.
“The IOC will also carefully study the report with regard to the Olympic Games.
“If any infringements on the anti-doping rules by athletes and or their entourage should be established, the IOC will react with its usual zero tolerance policy.
“We support the attempt of the independent commission to bring all the facts to light in the interest of the integrity of the sport and the protection of the cleans athletes.
“The IOC trusts that the new leadership of the IAAF with its President Sebastian Coe will draw all the necessary conclusions and will take all the necessary measures.”
The situation could be even worse for the IOC, though, as Pound described today’s allegations as only the “tip of the iceberg”.
“The Independent Commission wants to make it clear that Russia is not the only country with an ineffective anti-doping programme and that athletics is not the only sport with an ineffective anti- doping programme,” he said.
- Duncan Mackay, this article was republished with permission from the original publisher Inside the Games www.insidethegames.biz