Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko goes on offensive

Britain and the London 2012 Olympics have come underfire after the damning Wada report

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko (centre) and former IAAF president Lamine Diack (left), who is alledged to have received €1M in bribes.  Photograph: EPA.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko (centre) and former IAAF president Lamine Diack (left), who is alledged to have received €1M in bribes. Photograph: EPA.

 

The Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, has lashed out at Britain, saying testing at the London 2012 Olympics must have been worth zero if it failed to catch cheats.

A 325-page report published by a World Anti-Doping Agency independent commission on Monday outlined a vast state-sponsored doping programme that it said had sabotaged the London 2012 Games. The commission, chaired by the former Wada president Dick Pound, said six athletes with previous suspicious test results competed at the London Olympics.

The report recommended that five middle-distance runners and five coaches be given lifetime doping bans. Two of the athletes were the gold and bronze medallists in the 800 metres in 2012, Mariya Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova.

But Mutko said that if tests in London had failed to catch cheats “then your system is zero and even worse than ours”.

Pound said it was inconceivable that 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,” he said on Monday.

Mutko, also head of the 2018 World Cup organising committee, criticised Greg Dyke, the English Football Association chairman, for saying his position on the Fifa executive committee could come into question as a result of the revelations.

‘Not decorative’

Russian Football Union

Mutko did say that he was ready to put a foreign specialist in charge of Russia’s main anti-doping lab, which had its accreditation revoked by Wada in the wake of the report, if required. Grigory Rodchenkov resigned on Tuesday as director of the lab, a day after he was accused of concealing positive doping tests, extorting money from athletes and destroying 1,417 samples.

The Russian athletics federation is due to deliver its response to the report to the International Association of Athletics Federations by Thursday, with provisional suspension from all competitions on the cards. It appears likely to argue that it has already taken steps to deal with coaches and lab technicians who transgressed and insist that there is not enough evidence for Russia to be suspended.

The acting president of the Russian athletics federation, Vadim Zelichenok, told the Tass news agency that there was no proof of a systemic issue. “As for those items of the report that have a direct bearing on the federation, there is hardly any reason for fault-finding,” Zelichenok said.

Sebastian Coe, the IAAF’s new president, will convene an emergency meeting of its council in Monaco on Friday via conference call to decide whether to provisionally suspend Russia.

Elsewhere, former IAAF president Lamine Diack has resigned as honorary member of the International Olympic Committee following the launch of a formal investigation against the Senegalese for suspected corruption and money-laundering, the IOC said on Wednesday.

Provisionally suspended

The 82-year-old, an IOC member from 1999 to 2013 before becoming an honorary member a year later, was placed under formal investigation in France this week and questioned by authorities before being released on a bail bond of €500,000 and banned from leaving the country. Guardian Service

A FIVE-POINT PLAN FOR REFORMING WADA

1 Hugely increase global funding Triple it, quadruple it. Work out what Wada needs to do the job effectively and then find it. It should be a bigger priority to the IOC than a new TV channel. If national governments won’t take the necessary steps, sport should embarrass them into doing so.

2 Make the sanctions stick Empower Wada to set its own sanctions, putting sports or even entire countries in “special measures” if necessary and the onus on sports and governments to get their own house in order.

3 Empower the executive Separate the testing function from any new sanctioning arm. Empower the executive, introduce independent oversight and rigour.

4 Establish a flying squad Put together a team of testers who can swoop into black spots for extended periods to conduct out-of-competition tests. Have countries test one another’s samples rather than their own.

5 Stay one step ahead Further increase the resources devoted to researching new tests and techniques to catch the cheats and invest in investigation and intelligence gathering, as well as scientists and state-of-the-art laboratories.

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