Monday, November 9, 2015 5:12 pm
An international anti-doping commission recommended on Monday that the Russian Athletics Federation be banned from the sport over widespread doping offences – a move that could see the powerhouse Russian team banished from Olympic competition.
And in a swift reaction, IAAF chief, Sebastian Coe Seb Coe said he has urged the IAAF council “to start the process of considering sanctions” against Russian athletics federation. The nature of the sanctions is still unknown, whether it would involve an outright ban from Olympics., with another one due next year in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
An independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) identified what it called systemic failures in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and in Russia “that prevent or diminish the possibility of an effective anti-doping programme”. The report even spoke of a parallel doing test centre set up b the Russian Federation.
Russia is a traditional powerhouse of athletics and finished second behind the United states in the medals table at the 2012 Olympics, with 17 medals, eight of them gold. In the event, by no means certain, that IAAF were to adapt the commission’s recommendation, Russia could be excluded from major competitions including the Olympics and Europan Championships.
The Wada report says Moscow testing laboratory director Grigory Rodchenko ordered 1,417 doping control samples destroyed to deny evidence for the inquiry. The inquiry report says Rodchenko “personally instructed and authorized” the destruction of evidence three days before a Wada audit team arrived in Moscow last December. The Wada panel says it wanted to send the Russian athletes’ samples to labs in other countries to detect banned drugs and doping methods.
The report says Rodchenko’s action “obliterated forever the attempt to determine if there was any evidence of athletes having clean and dirty ‘A’ samples at the Moscow laboratory.” When the auditors arrived in Moscow, Rodchenko told them he decided to “do some clean up to prepare for Wada’s visit.” Rodchenkov, the report notes, “remained obstructive” throughout the investigation and refused to be recorded.
The Wada reports says agents from Russia’s intelligence service, the FSB, infiltrated anti-doping work at the Sochi Olympics. The report says “impartiality, judgment and integrity were compromised by the surveillance of the FSB within the laboratory.” One witness told the inquiry that “in Sochi, we had some guys pretending to be engineers in the lab but actually they were from the federal security service.” The inquiry says this was part of a wider pattern of “direct intimidation and interference by the Russian state with the Moscow laboratory operations.” Staff at the Moscow lab believed their offices were bugged by the FSB. An FSB agent, thought to be Evgeniy Blotkin or Blokhin, regularly visited. The report says lab director Grigory Rodchenkov was required to meet with Blotkin/Blokhin weekly to update him on the “mood of Wada”.
The commission looking into widespread doping in Russian athletics has recommended lifetime bans for five Russian middle-distance runners and five Russian coaches and administrators. The commission said that the London Olympics were more or less sabotaged by allowing Russian athletes to compete when they should have been suspended for doping violations. They blamed what they called an inexplicable laissez-faire attitude toward anti-doping by the IAAF and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. The World Anti-Doping Agency sent the recommendations for the lifetime suspensions to the IAAF in August and made them public today with release of a 350-page report detailing the allegations.
The Wada commission says Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko issued direct orders to “manipulate particular samples.” Mutko denied wrongdoing to the Wada inquiry panel, including knowledge of athletes being blackmailed and FSB intelligence agents interfering in lab work. Mutko, who is also a Fifa executive committee member and leads the 2018 World Cup organizing committee, was interviewed by the Wada panel at the Baur au Lac hotel in Zurich on 22 September.
His ministry is cited in the report for asserting undue influence over the Moscow lab. Mutko did tell the Wada inquiry he was “disgusted with the whistleblowers” who made claims of corruption. The report says Mutko “does not believe their allegations and says they had no right to make the recordings and that such tapings are matters for the public prosecutors.”
The scandal revolves around accusations that money was demanded from top athletes to ‘bury’ medical tests showing drug use.
The scandal could prove as damaging to world athletics as the corruption affair now shaking soccer’s world governing body FIFA, where president Sepp Blatter has been suspended and 14 officials and marketing executives indicted on corruption charges.
There has never been any suggestion that FIFA corruption has affected results on the pitch, at the World Cup, for example.
A co-author of the commission report, Richard McLaren, said at the weekend its investigation showed a whole different scale of corruption in causing “significant changes to actual results and final standings of international athletics competitions.”
If proved, the suppression of drug test results in return for bribes would also make a mockery of the huge investment in technical measures to detect drug use and ensure fairness.
The reach of corruption in global sport could in part be explained by a huge influx of sponsorship in recent decades into bodies lacking effective governance and supervisory procedures. The International Olympic Committee was hit by a graft scandal 15 years ago, while cricket and cycling have also been tainted.
French authorities last week placed former IAAF president Lamine Diack under formal investigation on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.
The 82-year-old Senegalese is alleged to have received over one million euros ($1.09 million) in bribes in 2011 to cover up positive doping tests by Russian athletes, the office of France’s financial prosecutor said.