Doping report could mean Russian athletes will miss Rio Games

Wada commission identifies corruption and bribery at highest levels of world athletics

Russia’s Mariya Savinova wins the 800m final at the 2012 Olympic Games in London: the Wada commission has recommended a lifetime ban for her. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty Images

Russia

has been accused of having a huge “state-sponsored doping programme” by an independent commission that could see the country kicked out of athletics and potentially the Rio 2016 Olympics.

Former World Anti-Doping Agency president Dick Pound, who chaired an independent commission convened to look into allegations of systemic doping made by German media 11 months ago, said the "very damaging" findings were probably the tip of the iceberg. The widespread rule-breaking, he said, was "worse than we thought".

The Wada commission said there was evidence of “interference with doping controls up to the middle of this year” including more than 1,400 samples destroyed in December last year, as well as “cover-ups, destruction of samples, payment of money to conceal doping tests”.

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It found that the head of its Moscow anti-doping lab, Grigory Rodchenko, admitted to intentionally destroying 1,417 samples. The report says the lab should lose its accreditation.

Sabotaged

The 323-page report found the London 2012 Olympics were “sabotaged” by the “widespread inaction” against Russian athletes with suspicious doping profiles by the

IAAF

, the world athletics governing body, and the Russian federation.

It outlines a culture of cheating in which Pound said Russian coaches were “out of control” and expected the Russian anti-doping agency to protect their athletes rather than catch them.

It recommended five middle-distance runners and five coaches be given lifetime doping bans. Two of the athletes are the gold and bronze medal winners in the 800 metres in 2012, Olympic champion Mariya Savinova and bronze medallist Ekaterina Poistogova.

The others are Anastasiya Bazdyreva, a 400m and 800m runner, Kristina Ugarova, a 1,500m runner, and Tatjana Myazina, an 800m runner.

Pound said it was inconceivable that Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko was not aware of the scale of the problem.

"It was impossible for him not to be aware of it. And if he's aware of it, he's complicit in it," said Pound. Mutko, who leads the 2018 football World Cup organising committee, denied wrongdoing to the Wada inquiry panel, including any knowledge of athletes being blackmailed.

Systemic failures

A number of Russian athletes suspected of doping could have been prevented from competing in 2012 had it not been for “the collective and inexplicable laissez-faire policy” adopted by the IAAF and the Russian federation.

The commission said it had identified “systemic failures” in the IAAF and the Russian federation that “prevent or diminish the possibility of an effective anti-doping programme”. Pound said the commission had found “payments of money to conceal doping tests”.

Asked if the findings were “the tip of the iceberg”, Pound said: “I’m afraid you’re probably right. We don’t think Russia is the only country with a doping problem and athletics is not the only sport with a doping problem.”

French police last week arrested former IAAF president Lamine Diack, IAAF legal adviser Habib Cissé and Gabriel Dollé, the former long-standing head of the IAAF's anti-doping unit. Prosecutors said they would have arrested Diack's son and former IAAF marketing consultant Papa Massata Diack if he had been in France at the time.

Diack is accused by French police of accepting more than €1 million in exchange for covering up positive drug tests. He has yet to comment. The IOC said Diack should be provisionally suspended as an honorary member of the International Olympics Committee.

Pound said he was holding back parts of the report pending the French investigation but hoped to release more details by the end of the year.

‘Alleged doping scam’

“This report also identifies corruption and bribery practices at the highest levels of international athletics, evidence of which has been transmitted to Interpol for appropriate investigation,” it said. Interpol said it was conducting an ongoing investigation into the “alleged global doping corruption scam”.

Wada’s foundation board will meet next week in Colorado Springs and has been urged by Pound to declare the Russian laboratory and anti-doping agency non-compliant. Pound said the IAAF should stop Russia from competing until it was completely rehabilitated.

“That is your nuclear weapon. Either get this done or you are not going to Rio. The embarrassment will be such that you’re going to get it done. The idea is to get people competing under the right conditions,” said Pound.

“It’s a pretty damning indictment of what has not been done and points the way to things that can be done if we’re going to get serious about this. At some point the Olympic movement and the governments have to say: ‘Are we going to do this properly or shall we all go home?’” he said.

Pound said that while its investigation was limited to Russia and athletics, the problems of systemic doping were wider.

The investigation was prompted when German television station ARD implicated officials in Russia’s athletics federation, anti-doping agency (Rusada) and the Wada-accredited laboratory in Moscow in acts of bribery to hush up positive doping tests, falsify tests and supply banned drugs.

Pound also drew Kenya into the orbit of suspicion when he said: “It seems pretty clear from both the ARD programme and subsequent developments that Kenya has a real problem.”

IAAF president Sebastian Coe said he was minded to try and rehabilitate Russia within the system but would "never say never" when it came to suspending a country.