GENEVA, November 9 – Russian athletics should be suspended from all competition, including the 2016 Olympic Games, a damning report by World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) independent commission into widespread doping and corruption urged on Monday.
“The IC (Independent commission) has recommended that the IAAF suspend ARAF (Russian athletics federation),” concluded the report set up to investigate the scandal that has rocked athletics, the flagship sport of the Olympics .
The long-awaited findings of former WADA chief Dick Pound’s three-man commission claimed Russian doping “could not have happened’ without government consent”.
WADA, which called for five Russian athletes, including 800m Olympic winner Mariya Savinova, to be given lifetime bans, suggested the presence of doped athletes had “sabotaged” the 2012 Games in London.
The report, which said “systematic doping” extended beyond Russia and athletics, also wants to see Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory stripped of its accreditation and its director fired.
IAAF president Sebastien Coe, giving his first reaction in London, said the report’s conclusions were “alarming” but he had begun the process “of considering sanctions against ARAF” (Russian Athletics federation).
“We need time to properly digest and understand the detailed findings included in the report,” Coe said in a statement.
“However, I have urged the Council to start the process of considering sanctions against ARAF.”
The crisis in athletics – already viewed as more damaging than the corruption scandal engulfing world football governing body FIFA – first erupted with allegations of doping aired in a German TV documentary in December 2014.
That programme claimed Russian track and field was plagued by doping.
In a first reaction, Russia’s sports minister Vitali Mutko said that the WADA commission cannot take the decision to suspend Russia from competition.
“There is no need to get confused, the commission does not have the right to suspend anyone,” Mutko told RIA Novosti news agency, saying Russian authorities would release a fuller statement later.
Britain’s Sunday Times and the ARD channel also obtained a database belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) which contained more than 12,000 blood tests taken from around 5,000 athletes between 2001 to 2012.
The affair took a dramatic twist last week when former IAAF chief Lamine Diack was charged with corruption on suspicion of taking bribes to cover up doping cases.
The 82-year-old Senegalese was also charged with money laundering and conspiracy. His legal advisor Habib Cisse and former IAAF anti-doping doctor were charged with corruption.
As global police body Interpol announced it was launching an investigation into the affair Monday’s dramatic WADA findings gave athletics’ governing body the IAAF and its new president Sebastien Coe plenty of food for thought just 270 days before the Rio Olympics.