News 10 November 2015

IAAF gives Russia until Friday to respond to IC report

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has given the Russian athletics federation (ARAF) until Friday to provide a “full and comprehensive response” to the findings of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Independent Commission; that the IAAF and ARAF conspired to hide Russian doping. “I’ve given the Russian federation until the end of the week to answer those allegations and to give my council a full and comprehensive response”, IAAF President Sebastian Coe told Sky Sports News. “I’ve asked the Council to convene on Friday to then review that response and then look at next steps. Sanctions could follow.”

ARAF has already said that it will present its response to the IAAF, including outlining the steps it has already taken, in a media statement issued earlier today. ‘We are ready for a meaningful strategic partnership with the IAAF, including all the measures to fix the existing problems in Russian and world athletics’, it read. ‘A real fair partnership in this work is much more effective than any kind of suspension or isolation’.

IOC asks IAAF to take immediate action

This evening, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) asked the IAAF to ‘initiate disciplinary procedures against all athletes, coaches and officials who have participated in the Olympic Games and are accused of doping in the report of the Independent Commission’. This would include Mariya Savinova, the Russian Olympic 800m gold medalist at the 2012 London Olympics, who admitted, in secret video recordings, to using the banned steroid oxandrolone, as well as Ekaterina Poistogova, who took bronze in the same London 2012 event.

Anastasiya Bazdyreva (800m), Tatjana Myazina (800m) and Kristina Ugarova (800m) are also named in the report, competed in the Olympics and are recommended for sanctioning. Allegations were also made against middle-distance runner Anna Alminova, Svetlana Cherkasova (800m) Aleksey Farsonov (1,500m) and Yekaterina Kupina (800m), however they are not expected to face an immediate IAAF ban, as they were not recommended for sanctioning.

However, the report did recommend lifetime bans for Dr. Sergey Nikolaevich Portugalov, Chief of the ARAF Medical Commission; Alexey Melnikov, senior coach and head Russian endurance coach; Vladimir Kazarin, Russian national team 800m coach; Vladimir Mokhnev, Russian endurance coach for 1000m – 3000m; and for Viktor Chegin, Russian race walking coach. All five of these individuals have worked with athletes who completed in the Olympics.

Russia’s denial of state involvement

“These allegations are without basis, and are fictional”, said Russian Minister for Sport Vitaly Mutko in an interview with Ruptly TV (featured below). “We should first attempt to clean up the international federations before waging blame on a nation that is trying to be a reliable partner in an international movement. Even if you bar Russia from competition today, you will hardly solve the overall problem. It is the head of the international federation that is facing charges [Lamine Diack], so why are we waging blame against Russia? We should look at ourselves and think about what is going on in the international world of sport.”

Richard Pound, President of the WADA Independent Commission, said in yesterday’s press conference (video link here) that it was “not possible” for Mutko to be ignorant of what was going on. “If he is aware of it, then he is complicit”, he said. ‘During various interviews conducted by IC investigators, laboratory personnel and athletes reported that the Ministry of Sport asserted influence over the Moscow laboratory’, read the report. ‘When the IC asked who instructs the laboratory to manipulate particular samples, laboratory personnel stated, “there is no need [to know the names] because the instructions are directly from the Ministry of Sport…”.

The report also alleged that the Ministry of Sport knew about Russian security service (FSB) monitoring of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, which had its WADA accreditation revoked today. ’The Moscow laboratory is not operationally independent from RUSADA [Russian Anti-Doping Agency] or the Ministry of Sport’, it read. ‘Its impartiality, judgment and integrity were compromised by the surveillance of the FSB within the laboratory during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games […] The IC concludes that there was direct intimidation and interference by the Russian state with the Moscow laboratory operations.’ It also found that there had been intimidation of doping control officers (DCOs) and their family members.

Mutko told the Independent Commission that he is ‘disgusted’ with the whistleblowers involved in the ARD documentary, that ‘they had no right to make the recordings and that such tapings are matters for the public prosecutors’. Mutko is also a member of the FIFA Executive Committee, and was Chairman of Russia’s successful bid to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup. FIFA’s Ethics Committee is understood to be analysing the 323 pages of the Independent Commission’s report.

Sebastian Coe

In August this year, Sebastian Coe took over as IAAF President from Lamine Diack, who is the subject of an Interpol investigation, having been Vice-President since 2007. In a hard-hitting interview (below), Channel 4’s Jon Snow questioned whether Coe either knew about what was going on at the IAAF, or should have known. It is currently not known whether police organisations will wish to speak to Coe.

In his manifesto for election as IAAF President, Coe vowed to establish an ‘external, fully independent anti-doping agency’ to deal with doing in athletics. Coe’s pledge was made after the initial December 2014 ARD documentary on systemic doping in Russian athletics, but before the August ARD documentary alleging that the IAAF had failed to act on suspicious blood values. A similar call was made today by the Austrian National Anti-Doping Agency (NADA), which said that the anti-doping budgets of sporting organisations to be allocated towards independent anti-doping organisations.

Sponsor concerns

The IAAF’s sponsors have confirmed that they are monitoring the ongoing situation. In October, currently suspended FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter rebuffed sponsor calls for him to immediately resign; however cycling faced the withdrawal of broadcasters and sponsors following earlier doping allegations.

TV coverage of the Tour de France has only returned to German television this year, after two broadcasters pulled out of a TV contract to cover the race in 2007, due to doping allegations. In 2006 Phonak pulled its sponsorship of cycling following Floyd Landis’ positive, followed by T-Mobile a year later. In her book ‘The Breakaway’, Nicole Cooke mentions that following a number of doping positives, planned sponsor support for a professional women’s team fell through.

‘As an Official Partner of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletics Series, we are disappointed by recent news reports of unethical behaviour within the track and field world’, read a statement e-mailed from IAAF sponsor Canon today. ‘We will carefully follow developments and look to the IAAF to respond swiftly and responsibly’.

‘As a supplier of athletic surfaces and equipment the current facts are unrelated to our business and our relationship with the IAAF’, read a statement e-mailed from IAAF supplier Mondo. ‘We are as surprised and concerned as all people involved in sport and in athletics’. Adidas and Toyota declined to comment.

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