Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Russian State Duma has approved at first reading a 2016 Bill designed to introduce fines of between Rub30,000 and Rub50,000 (€400 – €660) for athletes, coaches, doctors, or athlete support personnel responsible for a doping violation that does not constitute a criminal offence. In 2016, Russia criminalised the supply of prohibited substances to athletes so in effect, the only change made by the Bill would be to enable fines to be levied in the case of a doping offence.
The Bill sets out that it would make doping violations committed by athletes an administrative offence, similar to that outlined in Article 6.18 of the Administrative Code on the prevention of doping in sport. This allows coaches, doctors or athlete support personnel to be disqualified for two years if they are involved in a non-criminal doping offence committed by an athlete; or for three years if the offence involves a minor.
“We aim to introduce administrative responsibility for doping”, said Deputy Chairman of the State Duma, Igor Lebedev (Игорь Лебедев) in a statement. “We hope that this will stop athletes [from using prohibited substances]”. Lebedev added that if the Bill is ineffective, the Duma would consider criminalising doping, as Italy and Germany have done.
In May this year, the IAAF revoked the accreditation of five Russian race walkers after they were found to have worked with a banned coach. An investigation by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) found that Viktor Chegin was working with the athletes.
Chegin was sanctioned with a lifetime ban by RusAF in March 2016. Over 20 athletes trained by him between 2005 and 2015 are understood to have been disqualified for doping. Chegin was provisionally suspended by RUSADA on 25 August 2014, yet it did not launch an official investigation until 15 July 2015. RusAF did not remove him as Russia’s race walking coach until 16 July 2015.
After Chegin was filmed training Russian athletes on 27 April 2016 in the town of Adler, 10km from Sochi, Russia’s Ministry of Sports claimed that it had no control over the situation. ‘The Ministry of Sport cannot control the movement and location of unqualified coaches and athletes’, it said in a statement. ‘If there is information that unqualified staff are continuing training activities, we will immediately react and take appropriate action’. As Article 6.18 of the Administrative Code was introduced in December 2011, this raises further questions about whether more could have been done to stop banned coaches from continuing to work with Russian athletes.
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