International Olympic Committee backs IAAF over Russian doping

‘This is in line with the IOC’s long-held zero-tolerance policy’

The International Olympic Committee has backed athletics’ world governing body over its unanimous vote to extend Russia’s suspension from global competition for doping offences.

Russia’s athletics team remains banned ahead of this summer’s Rio Olympics after the IAAF’s 27-strong council decided at a meeting in Vienna on Friday that the criteria for reinstatement had not been met.

On Saturday the IOC, which is to meet in Lausanne on Tuesday, said in a statement: “The International Olympic Committee (IOC) welcomes and supports the IAAF’s strong stance against doping. This is in line with the IOC’s long-held zero-tolerance policy.

“The IOC has taken note of the decision of the IAAF Council and of the report and recommendations of the IAAF task force.


“The IOC executive board, in a telephone conference today (Saturday), emphasised that it fully respects the IAAF position.”

Russian president Vladimir Putin has labelled the ban "unjust and unfair".

The Russian athletics federation (Araf) was suspended in November following an 11-month investigation by an independent commission chaired by former World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) president Dick Pound.

IAAF task force head Rune Andersen said on Friday that an athlete who had a record of clean tests from “credible anti-doping agencies” could compete in Rio but not in Russian colours.

In addition, the IAAF Council ruled that ”any individual athlete who has made an extraordinary contribution to the fight against doping in sport should also be able to apply for such permission to compete, in particular, (Russian 800 metres runner and whistleblower) Yuliya Stepanova’s case should be considered favourably.”

The IOC statement on Saturday added: “The eligibility of athletes in any international competition including the Olympic Games is a matter for the respective international federation.

“The IOC will initiate further far-reaching measures in order to ensure a level playing field for all the athletes taking part in the Olympic Games.

“The upcoming Olympic Summit on Tuesday will address the situation of the countries in which the national anti-doping organisation has been declared non-compliant by Wada for reasons of the non-efficient functioning of the national anti-doping system.”

Friday's unanimous decision was the IAAF's clearest statement against doping for years and a personal triumph for its president Sebastian Coe, but questions still surround his own history of fighting drugs cheats.

After Friday’s announcement, Coe was repeatedly forced to explain what he knew about the crisis before his election as president in August 2015.

When asked why he – an IAAF vice-president since 2007 – did not show more curiosity about something that would become athletics’ worst scandal, Coe said: “You could say it was a lack of curiosity.

“I would say it was about knowing there was a system and structure in place to deal with those issues and (the IAAF ethics board) was the proper vehicle to do it.

“I take some pride that when I rejoined the IAAF in a practical way (after his role as chairman of London 2012’s organising committee) in 2013, I took up two responsibilities, one was to chair the press commission and the other was to drive through the (creation of the) ethics board.

“The discussion we’re having here is in large part because the ethics board was set up to act upon those kinds of information.”

Coe has always maintained the first he knew of predecessor Lamine Diack’s involvement in the scandal was in the weeks after the election, and the full picture did not emerge until Pound delivered his landmark report into the affair in November 2015.

But fresh questions have emerged about warnings he received about the involvement of senior IAAF staff in the conspiracy to cover up positive drug tests in 2014 and his links with Papa Massata Diack, Lamine's son.

The warnings came from former British distance runner and London Marathon director David Bedford and related to a scam, set up by the Diacks, to extort money from Russian doper Liliya Shobukhova.

It was reported on Thursday that Bedford had sent Coe an email with evidence about Papa Massata Diack and Shobukhova in August 2014, four months before the conspiracy was exposed by a German TV documentary and a year before Coe’s election.

Coe responded to this claim by saying he forwarded the email without reading it to the ethics board.

But on Friday, the Evening Standard revealed Bedford had also discussed the matter with Coe.

Speaking later on Friday, Coe said: “Look, I don’t claim this to be a badge of honour but anybody who really knows me will know I don’t have a computer.

“I don’t open emails, my office deals with those and deals with them promptly.

"I was told (by his secretary) that there was an email from David Bedford. I (said) forward it immediately and directly to (ethics board chairman) Michael Beloff.

“And the conversation, that I don’t actually recall but obviously took place beforehand, was about rumours and allegations.

“And my standard response, to hundreds of conversations I have on all sorts of subjects and at all times of the day, whether it’s trackside or in IAAF meetings, is always the same: if you have any concerns, we have an ethics board, speak to (them).”