Wed, Nov 11, 2015 - Page 19 News List

WADA panel recommends Russia ban

WIDESPREAD:The independent commission said that it would present evidence of misconduct in other countries’ athletics programs in a complete report by year’s end

AFP, GENEVA, Switzerland

Russia’s athletics federation should be suspended from all competition, including next year’s Olympic Games, over widespread doping, a damning report by an independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) said on Monday.

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 the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to suspend the All-Russia Athletic Federation (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 [ARAF] report back by the end of the week,” Coe said.

The IAAF Council is due to meet on Friday to discuss the crisis facing the Olympics’ flagship sport.

The Russian Ministry of Sport late on Monday said in a statement 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 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,” it added.

The Kremlin yesterday dismissed the allegations, saying the assertions were groundless.

“Until some evidence is presented ... it is difficult to accept these accusations, they are quite groundless,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

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 commission also said the Moscow-based anti-doping laboratory needed to be stripped of its accreditation and its director fired.

Given the extent of the cheating among Russian track athletes, the doping was state-supported and “could not have happened” without the tacit approval of authorities, Pound told reporters.

Pound suggested that the rot within the country’s track program was so severe, he hoped that Moscow would “volunteer” to remove its athletes from the Rio Games.

He also voiced hope that Russia would “take the lead in fixing a problem that could ... destroy” athletics.

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 IOC is not going to sell out athletes that need to be protected” from those who dope, said Pound, who is a former IOC vice president.

US Anti-Doping Agency head Travis Tygart demanded tough consequences if the allegations are proven true.

“If Russia has created an organized scheme of state-supported doping, then they have no business being allowed to compete on the world stage,” Tygart said in a statement.

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