Wada commission recommends banning of Russian athletes

IAAF to seek approval over possible ban; Interpol to co-ordinate global investigation

An independent commission set up by Wada has recommended the Russian Athletics Foundation be suspended from competing over widespread doping offences and systematic failures. Video: Reuters

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.

The former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), 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”. It found that the head of its Moscow anti-doping lab Grigory Rodchenko admitted to intentionally destroying 1,417 samples. The report says that the lab, the only Wada accredited one in Russia, should lose its accreditation.

The 323-page report found the London 2012 Olympics were “sabotaged” by the “widespread inaction” against Russian athletes with suspicious doping profiles, by the world athletics governing body the IAAF 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 that 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, the Olympic champion Mariya Savinova and the bronze medalist Ekaterina Poistogova.

The others are Anastasiya Bazdyreva, a 400m and 800m runner, Kristina Ugarova, a 1500m runner, and Tatjana Myazina, an 800m runner.

Pound said it was inconceivable that the 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.

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” within IAAF and the Russian athletics 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 whether the findings were simply “the tip of the iceberg”, Pound replied: “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 Diack, the IAAF legal adviser Habib Cissé and Gabriel Dollé, the former longstanding 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, the IAAF president for 16 years, 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 that 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 into IAAF officials but hoped to release more details by the end of the year. “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 announced that 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.

The former Wada president, one of three independent commissioners who investigated the allegations of systemic doping and cover-ups, was also critical of the role of the organisation he once led. “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 the 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 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. It has been very slow to acknowledge there is a problem,” he said. “There is apparently some investigation going on as we speak. If they don’t do a good job then someone else will do a job for them.”

Sebastian Coe, the IAAF president, said on Sunday that he was minded to try and rehabilitate Russia within the system but would “never say never” when it came to suspending a country. On Monday, Coe said the report was “alarming”.

“We need time to properly digest and understand the detailed findings included in the report. However, I have urged the council to start the process of considering sanctions against Araf [Russian Athletics Federation]. This step has not been taken lightly,” he said.

“Our athletes, partners and fans have my total assurance that where there are failures in our governance or our anti-doping programmes we will fix them. We will do whatever it takes to protect the clean athletes and rebuild trust in our sport. The IAAF will continue to offer the police authorities our full co-operation into their ongoing investigation.”

(Guardian service)