Allowing legal action to be taken against those guilty of coercing Russian athletes into doping has been included among a proposed amendment to the country’s Criminal Code by a St. Petersburg Senator.
It comes as Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko continues to threaten legal action against Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow Laboratory who has claimed up to 15 Russian medal winners at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi were doping.
Rodchenkov claimed in The New York Times that a doping system in place throughout the Winter Olympic Games was so effective it ran like a “Swiss Watch”.
This included the development of a “three-drug cocktail” of banned steroids which were mixed with alcohol and given to Russian athletes, he claims, as well as a covert system to replace the urine of affected medal winners with clean samples using soda containers and baby bottles.
Mutko, the Kremlin and those accused of doping have all strongly denied all allegations and argue that, as someone who has left the country, Rodchenkov’s claims have no credibility.
“We’ll take a decision [on legal action] today or tomorrow after the legal service of the Sports Ministry makes a conclusion,” Mutko told Russia’s official news agency TASS.
“Such a task has already been assigned to it and several law firms have been involved in the effort.
“I admit [there is] the possibility of filing a lawsuit either from the Ministry or from athletes – we’ll see.”
Writing in The Sunday Times, Mutko admitted to being “sorry” and “ashamed” about Russian doping which has resulted in the All-Russian Athletic Federation being suspended by the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) following allegations of systemic and state-sponsored illegal drug use.
There are indications, however, that sporting opinion is hardening against the ban being lifted in time for Rio 2016, with The Times in London reporting today that IAAF Council members are increasingly sceptical that the required changes are being made.
The call from St. Petersburg Senator Vadim Tyulpanov is interesting given this context, but it is not yet clear how much high level backing there is for such a move, or how effective it would be in practice.
Officials guilty of orchestrating doping could face reported fines of up to RUB ₽200,000 (£2,150/$3,100/€2,700), up to one year of “correction labour” or up to one year of “limited personal freedom” for violating the rules on the sale or transportation of any drugs that contain substances banned for use in sports, according to reports.
Coaches, medics or other members of the athletes’ entourage could face even harsher punishments, including five years in jail and fines in line with their income over a three year period.
Tyulpanov told Izvestia Daily that this move is connected with the “string of scandals resulting from the revelations of doping use by top Russian athletes”, especially because, “in many such cases, coaches and medics have pressed the athletes they were working with into using banned substances”.
Passing the new ruling could “preserve the athletes’ health, observe the moral norms accepted in sports and boost the prestige of Russian athletes on the international arena”, he claimed.
By Nick Butler
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz