Russia must end systemic culture of doping and corruption, says IAAF

World governing body wants Russia to issue a mea culpa for its behaviour but IOC president Thomas Bach says he is confident Russia will compete at Rio 2016

The governing body of world athletics will tell Russia that it must issue a mea culpa for its behaviour, end state interference in track and field and investigate its own drug cheats before it is allowed back into international competition, the Observer has learned. However, the IAAF’s determination to get tougher with Russia risks being immediately undermined by the International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, who said he was confident that the country’s athletes would be competing at next year’s Olympic Games.

Before that happens, however, senior officials at the International Association of Athletics Federations want to make a serious attempt to rid Russia of its systemic culture of doping and corruption. Many thought that when the IAAF took the unprecedented decision to temporarily suspend it from all competitions after revelations of state-sponsored doping, it was just going through the motions. However, the Observer understands the IAAF intends to make Russia implement “every recommendation of Dick Pound’s Independent Commission report and more” – in the words of one official – when its council meets in Monaco in a fortnight’s time. These include:

That the Russians must provide “a comprehensive report on how the failures identified by the Independent Commission will be resolved”. These failures centred on a nexus of collusion and corruption among Russia’s athletes and its government that led to widespread drug taking and cheating.

That a number of senior Russian Athletics officials should banned. These include Dr Sergey Nikolaevich Portugalov, chief of the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) medical commission, Alexey Melnikov, the head coach for Russia for endurance, Vladimir Kazarin, who has coached the Russian women’s athletics team since 2002, and Viktor Mikhailovich Chegin, a leading race walking coach.

That “all necessary steps” must be taken to remove and prevent any actions by state agencies, including the FSB, that may affect the independence of the anti-doping programme in Russia.

That ARAF should be forced to “undertake an internal investigation regarding non-compliant code conduct of any of its officials, coaches and athletes identified in Pound’s report and submit it to Wada within six months”.

Providing a list of any athletes and coaches who were given doping substances by Portugalov when he was head of the medical commission.

Rusada being required to investigate all the Russian athletes and coaches who refused to answer questions to Wada’s independent commission about their drug taking.

One source told the Observer: “Just because Russia’s suspension is currently provisional no one should read into it as being a light punishment. Unless Russia changes its act it will not return to international competition any time soon.”

However, this approach does not appear to be shared by Bach, who sounded confident that Russia would be competing in the Olympics after a meeting with the Russian Olympic president, Alexander Zhukov, on Saturday.

After Zhukov promised to ensure that Rusada, the anti-doping laboratory in Moscow, and ARAF were compliant with the Wada code and all other international anti-doping regulations as soon as possible, Bach stuck a conciliatory tone.

“I welcome the fact that the Russian Olympic Committee expressed its firm commitment to protect the clean athletes, and to sanction all the doped athletes and officials,” he said. “I appreciated very much the openness of the discussion and welcomed the fact that the ROC will play the leading role. We are confident that the initiatives being proposed by the ROC, with the responsible international organisations, Wada and the IAAF, will ensure compliance as soon as possible in order to provide participation of the clean Russian athletes at the Olympic Games.”

Zhukov, meanwhile, insisted that Russia would change for the better. “The Russian Olympic Committee is determined that the clean athletes should compete in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro,” he said. “Anyone found guilty of using illegal drugs or anyone who facilitated or was complicit in their use must be punished.”

Russia can tackle doping in time for Rio, says Dick Pound

The Russian sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, said he had not been surprised by the decision to suspend his country from international track and field competition before suggesting that Russia could be compliant again by early 2016. “It is a predictable and understandable decision,” he said. “We need to understand what they want and where they see threats. We will develop a joint roadmap and try do it quickly. I think we can do all the work in two to three months.”

But Mutko dismissed the possible consequences of the IAAF’s decision. “What will happen? Nothing will happen. Athletics will develop, the guys will train. Well, they will miss maybe one tournament.”

Vadim Zelichenok, the acting head of ARAF, said he was prepared to resign to help the sport recover. “I believe the IAAF council made a decision which was too severe,” he said. “Most important is that our sportsmen can appear at international competitions as soon as possible.”


Sean Ingle

The GuardianTramp

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