Nov 11, 2015

    Russia faces Games ban for 'doping'


    RUSSIA'S athletics federation should be suspended from all competition, including next year's Olympics, 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 athletics' governing body (IAAF) to suspend Russia's athletics body (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," Mr Coe said. "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 (Russia) report back by the end of the week."

    The IAAF council is due to meet on Friday to discuss the crisis facing the Olympic flagship sport, and Russia faces a provisional suspension at the next IAAF meeting this month in Monaco.

    However, Russian athletics officials dismissed the report, and the head of Russia's anti-doping agency, Rusada, rejected claims that lab engineer impersonators had destroyed hundreds of doping samples.

    "If we speak about the allegedly destroyed doping samples, I see only a raw report and declarative statements without any proof," Nikita Kamaev told Tass news agency.

    "This also goes in regard to accusations of bribes offered by athletes. I see no logic here. All accusations are ungrounded at the moment." He added that the agency was conducting its own investigation into the allegations.

    Russia's Sports Minister said the country has done everything that was asked by international organisations.

    "We invested colossal funds into building a laboratory, we did everything that was recommended to us, we pay a million dollars every year to Wada. I don't understand, what else do we need to do so that somebody says that we comply?" Vitaly Mutko told state television.

    Meanwhile, Araf's acting president said the federation would ask for an extension of the one-week deadline.

    Wada's commission also called for five Russian athletes - including 800m Olympic winner Mariya Savinova - to be given life bans, suggesting the presence of doped athletes had "sabotaged" the 2012 Games in London.

    The Moscow anti-doping laboratory needed to be stripped of its accreditation and its director fired, the commission added.

    Mr Pound told journalists that, given the extent of the cheating among Russian track athletes, the doping was state-supported and "could not have happened" without tacit approval of the authorities.

    He suggested that the rot within the country's athletics programme was so severe that he hoped that Moscow would "volunteer" to remove its athletes from the Rio Games.

    Pressed on the consequences of inaction, especially if tainted Russian athletes compete in Rio, Mr Pound insisted that the International Olympic Committee would step in.