Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Independent Commission appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to investigate allegations of systemic doping in Russian athletics has found that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) and the Russian athletics federation (ARAF) conspired to hide doping in Russian athletics. Its investigation uncovered a ‘multifaceted and complex conspiracy involving members of the athletic community within the IAAF and ARAF’, as well as finding evidence of breaches of ‘IAAF rules and processes by IAAF officials’.
It also found that a shadow laboratory existed alongside the WADA-accredited Moscow laboratory, whose sole purpose was to assist with covering up positive tests. ‘There is sufficient corroborated evidence to conclude that the second laboratory was assisting in the cover-up of positive doping results by way of the destruction of samples’, reads the report. ‘Pre-screened samples that were not positive could then be sent to the accredited laboratory’.
As such, the Commission has recommended that the IAAF suspend ARAF; and that WADA withdraw the Moscow laboratory’s accreditation. The IAAF Council is currently considering whether to proceed with a sanctions process against ARAF. WADA welcomed the report, however has yet to take a decision on suspension of the Moscow laboratory. ARAF and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) have yet to issue responses to the 323-page report.
The Independent Commission’s report identified ‘systemic failures within the IAAF and Russia that prevent or diminish the possibility of an effective anti-doping program, to the extent that neither ARAF, RUSADA, nor the Russian Federation can be considered Code-compliant’. It has also prepared sanctions packages in relation to five athletes, four coaches and one medical doctor, which it has delivered to WADA. ‘Action on such packages has commenced and provisional suspensions have already been imposed in connection with some of these individuals’, read the report.
It also ‘turned over considerable data and information to Interpol that tends to demonstrate criminal conduct on the part of certain individuals and organisations’. However such information will remain confidential until the end of the year, as planned, when the Independent Commission is due to deliver the second part of its report. Last week, French police arrested former IAAF President Lamine Diack over allegations that he accepted money from Russian authorities in order to cover up positive doping tests.
The Commission also found Moscow laboratory officials responsible for the ‘malicious destruction’ of 1,417 samples, after receiving notification from WADA to preserve target samples. Laboratory Director Rodchenkov ‘admitted to intentionally destroying the 1,417 samples in order to limit the extent of WADA’s audit and to reduce any potential adverse findings from subsequent analysis by another WADA accredited laboratory’, read the report.
The Commission also implicated the Lausanne laboratory, which it said had ‘acted contrary to specific instructions’ by destroying 67 Russian samples transferred from the Moscow laboratory that WADA had asked it to retain. ‘The IC is not satisfied with the explanations given for the destruction of the samples transferred from the Moscow laboratory’, reads the report. “We got an explanation from the Lausanne Laboratory but we did not believe the explanation”, said Commission President Richard Pound (pictured) at today’s press conference (video coverage below).
The Commission recommends that the director of the Moscow laboratory be removed from his post immediately. ‘The Moscow laboratory is unable to act independently’, reads its report. ‘The IC investigation identified issues of grave concern in regard to integrity, corruption, handing of testing analysis, processing of samples and, in a separate matter, the deliberate destruction of a large number of samples prior to a WADA December 2014 onsite audit, despite acknowledgment of specific WADA instruction to preserve such samples’.
The Commission was also critical of Russian Minister for Sport, Vitaly Mutko. In today’s press conference, Pound said “it is not possible” for Mutko to be ignorant of what was going on. Pound concluded that if he is aware of it, “then he is complicit”.
The Commission’s report added that it is ‘inexplicable’ that the Ministry of Sport would allow the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), the subject of several allegations in the December 2014 ARD documentary, to investigate itself. It also said that the Ministry of Sport did nothing to investigate allegations of serious criminal conduct on the part of Russian sport officials; that many people were ‘unwilling to speak candidly regarding relationships between Minsport, RUSADA and the Moscow laboratory out of fear for reprisals’; and that the Commission was ‘unable to corroborate allegations of direct influence by Minsport on the activities of RUSADA and the Moscow laboratory’.
The Commission also found that doping appears to be continuing in Russian athletics. ‘As of June 2015, there continues to exist widespread doping taking place at the OTC in Saransk, despite the ongoing and well-publicised investigation into doping on the Russian athletics team’, read the report. ‘Russian coaches apparently felt it was safe enough for six out of ten race walkers, who tested positive, to continue doping as part of their training program, supporting cheating within athletics.’ As reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative, Viktor Chegin continues to give his name to the Russian Olympic race-walking centre in Saransk, and until July this year was still listed as its head coach, despite ongoing investigations into him.
The Commission said that ‘an open and accepted series of unethical behaviours and practices has become the norm’ in Russia. ‘There are documented cases where athletes who did not want to participate in “the program” were informed they would not be considered as part of the federation’s national team for competition. Also, other coercive activities were employed to gain the athletes’ participation in doping activities, such as being unable to engage the highest calibre coaching assistance.’
The Commission has passed evidence on to international police organisation Interpol, which today announced that it would ‘coordinate a global investigation led by France into an alleged international corruption scam involving sports officials as well as athletes suspected of a doping cover-up’. The Commission’s findings in relation to the matters under police investigation will remain private until it completes the full and final version of its report, which is expected to be delivered before the end of the year. Pound has said that the Commission will be free to release its report in full within 30 days of it being given to WADA, which was one of the conditions of its investigations. “We didn’t want to get into a FIFA situation where the report is effectively buried and rewritten”, he said.
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