World Anti-Doping Agency recommends banning of Russia from athletics following widespread cheating
The independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has recommended that the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) be banned from the sport, including next year’s Olympics, after widespread doping offences and systemic failures.
WADA report recommends Russian Athletics Federation be banned from sport
Advice comes after independent commission finds widespread doping offences
Ban could see Russian athletes barred from Olympic Games, European championships
Five athletes including 800m Olympic champion Mariya Savinova face lifetime bans
The commission’s report, published on Monday, “identified systemic failures within the IAAF and Russia” that prevent or diminish the possibility of an effective anti-doping program.
Such a ban, if adopted by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) would prevent Russian athletes taking part in any IAAF-sanctioned events such as the Olympic Games and world and European championships.
Commission chairman Dick Pound addressed the media from Geneva to present their findings over allegations made during German broadcaster ARD’s December 2014 documentary on doping in Russia.
“It’s worse than we thought, it has the effect of factually affecting the results on the field of play,” Mr Pound said.
“And athletes, both in Russia and abroad, are suffering as a result.
“It may be a residue of the old Soviet system … they must stop it and make a new start.
“As the investigation went on we discovered information that not only related to sport corruption in the general sense of it, but also to possible criminal actions as well,” Mr Pound said.
“That has been turned over to Interpol for investigation and review … there will be a decision by criminal authorities on whether there will be prosecutions and then we will be in a position to release the full report.”
The commission called for lifetime bans to be given to five Russian athletes, including Olympic 800m champion Mariya Savinova, and the stripping of accreditation for Moscow’s under-fire anti-doping laboratory.
The 800m medals won by Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova (bronze) at the London Olympics are under scrutiny. Russia won 17 track and field medals at the 2012 Olympics including eight gold.
The report said there were Russian athletes that should not have been competing at the London Olympics due to abnormal blood passport results.
It also found that testing laboratory director Grigory Rodchenko “personally ordered and authorised” 1,417 doping control samples be destroyed three days before WADA arrived in Moscow last December.
“This was done on a Saturday morning immediately prior to the arrival in Moscow of a WADA audit team,” the report said.
Russian participation at Rio Olympics in jeopardy
The announcement comes less than 300 days before the 2016 Summer Olympics are set to begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“One of our hopes is [that Russia will volunteer to be suspended and] undertake the remedial work to allow Russian athletes to compete under a new framework,” Mr Pound said.
“If they don’t, and this plays out, the outcome may be that there are no Russian track and field athletes in Rio. I hope they recognise it’s time to change and make those changes.”
Hajo Seppelt, the man behind the ARD documentary, said Russian athletes should not be allowed to go to Rio — even if changes are made.
“That needs even much more time to clean up a system like this one, which is, from my point of view, really cultural heritage from the former Soviet Union,” Mr Seppelt said.
“And to change that, that needs not days, not weeks, not months, but that needs years.
“I think it’s much better that they wait for a little time, that they understand that wrongdoing like this, corruption, doping on a wide scale is not matching with competing at the Olympics.”
Athletics Australia chief executive Phil Jones supports the banning of Russian track and field athletes from the 2016 Rio Games.
“It is very difficult to see that their house is going to be in order by the middle of next year,” Mr Jones said.
Mr Pound said the widespread doping “could not have happened” without the awareness and consent of the Moscow government.
The global police body Interpol said that it would be coordinating a global investigation into the suspected corruption and doping.
Russian athletics chief Vadim Zelichenok however responded that WADA had no right to suspend the federation.
“It is only a recommendation,” he said, adding that only the IAAF has the power to make the final decision.
Executive director of Russia’s anti-doping watchdog RUSADA, Nikita Kamaev, said the WADA doping allegations against Russia were groundless.
However Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said that if either the IAAF or WADA make any recommendations on the basis of the report, “we will certainly fulfil them”.