GENEVA: Russia’s athletics federation should be suspended from all competition, including the 2016 Olympic Games, over widespread doping, a damning report by an independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said.
The report outlined evidence of systematic cheating with the consent of the government in Moscow, noting that drug tests for athletes were conducted at a Russian lab that totally lacked credibility.
“It’s pretty disturbing,” said former WADA chief Richard Pound, who headed the three-man commission, adding that the extent of the cheating was “worse than we thought”.
The panel’s findings called for athletics’ governing body (IAAF) to suspend Russia’s athletics body (ARAF) and declare it “non-compliant” with globally agreed doping regulations.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe said he would give Russia until Friday to respond to the scathing report.
“I want an explanation,” Coe said on a conference call. “I am completely shocked by the allegations.”
“My instinct remains to encourage engagement not isolation, but the extent of what’s being said, I need to seek (IAAF) council support to have them (Russia) report back by the end of the week.”
The IAAF Council are due to meet Friday to discuss the crisis facing the Olympic’s flagship sport, and the country faces a provisional suspension at the next IAAF meeting this month in Monaco.
The Russian sports ministry said in a statement late Monday that it was “not surprised by most of the points” made in the WADA commission report.
“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,” the statement read.
“Russia has been and will continue to be fully committed to the fight against doping in sport.”
ARAF’s acting president has said the federation would ask for an extension of the one week deadline.
WADA’s commission also called for five Russian athletes including 800m Olympic winner Mariya Savinova to be given lifetime bans, suggesting the presence of doped athletes had “sabotaged” the 2012 Games in London.
The Moscow anti-doping laboratory needed to be stripped of its accreditation and its director fired, the commission further said.
Pound told journalists that given the extent of the cheating among Russian track athletes, the doping was state-supported and “could not have happened” without tacit approval of authorities.
He suggested that the rot within the country’s track programme was so severe, he hoped that Moscow would “volunteer” to remove its athletes from the Rio games.
Pressed on the consequences of inaction, especially if tainted Russian athletes compete in Rio, Pound insisted that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would step in.
The head of the US anti-doping agency, Travis Tygart, demanded tough consequences if the allegations are proven true, saying “they have no business being allowed to compete on the world stage”.
The crisis first erupted with allegations of doping aired in a German TV documentary in December 2014.
Pound said that “overwhelming portions” of the programme had been proven accurate.
Britain’s Sunday Times and the ARD channel also obtained a database belonging to the IAAF which contained more than 12,000 blood tests taken from around 5,000 athletes between 2001 and 2012.
The affair took a dramatic twist last week when former IAAF chief Lamine Diack was charged with corruption on suspicion of taking bribes to cover up doping cases, as well as money laundering and conspiracy.
Global police body Interpol announced it was launching an investigation into the affair.
But, contrary to some expectations, Pound’s report did not address allegations of IAAF officials receiving bribes to cover up positive tests for athletes, including potential medal winners from past Olympic games.
Pound made clear, however, that Monday’s release included only the first part of the commission’s report, which focused largely on Russian athletics.
Further evidence of misconduct, including among potentially “rogue” individuals within the IAAF, is expected by the end of the year, Pound said.
He noted in particular that “Kenya has a real problem”.
Ironically hours before the storm broke President Vladimir Putin urged his compatriots to take up sport, telling Russian television: “If you do it in a rather subtle way then success will come.”