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Russian whistleblower urges Kenya, Ethiopia focus

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 World athletics' governing body the IAAF said it "strongly rejected" allegations of thousands of suspicious blood tests from athletes, and insisted it was taking every possible measure to combat doping. PHOTO/AFP

World athletics’ governing body the IAAF said it “strongly rejected” allegations of thousands of suspicious blood tests from athletes, and insisted it was taking every possible measure to combat doping. PHOTO/AFP

LONDON, November 11 – The whistleblower who sparked the global investigation into doping in Russian athletics has called for the sport’s authorities to also look at countries such as Kenya and Ethiopia.

Andrey Baranov, a Russian sports agent, wrote a signed deposition to world athletics’ governing body the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) in April 2014 outlining bribery and extortion related to doping in Russian athletics.

It led to the bombshell report published on Monday by an independent commission of the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) that revealed “state-supported” doping in Russian athletics and called for the country to be suspended from the sport.

But Baranov told Wednesday’s edition of The Guardian newspaper: “It is wrong just to be focusing on Russia. There should be a similar investigation into countries like Kenya and Ethiopia too.

“Their top athletes are earning far more than the Russians. Yet their levels of testing are very limited.”

Kenya has long faced accusations of doping and Dick Pound, the former WADA president who led the independent commission, said the country “has a real problem and has been very slow to acknowledge it”.

Baranov’s deposition to the IAAF revealed that officials from the Russian athletics federation had extorted 450,000 euros ($480,000) from his client, marathon-runner Liliya Shobukhova, who was banned and stripped of her titles last year due to anomalies in her biological passport.

The Guardian reported that one of the officials was Russian coach Alexei Melnikov, who the WADA report recommended should be banned for life.

Several senior IAAF figures are also under investigation due to Baranov’s testimony and he admitted that he was worried about the potential consequences of speaking out.

“Of course I am worried, but what are you going to do?” he said. “It had to be done for the future.”

Shobukhova was able to compete at the London 2012 Olympics after allegedly bribing officials to cover up evidence of doping, but Baranov said she had played an important part in bringing the scandal to light.

“Liliya is cooperating with WADA and the IAAF commission and she has done so much to expose this corruption which took place between the IAAF and the Russian Athletics Federation as well as between other athletes and other international bodies,” he said.

“Liliya was also brave to speak out, but some Russians don’t 100 percent understand what she did because it was not published. Not many people know what she did and what she went through.”

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