Russia could be banned from competing in next year’s Olympics after a World-Anti Doping Agency panel accused the country’s government of complicity in widespread doping in a devastating report on Monday.
The WADA commission set up to probe media allegations of doping in Russia said there had even been involvement from the FSB, the country’s intelligence service, which had spied on Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory.
The commission, chaired by former WADA president Dick Pound, recommended that the Russian athletics federation be immediately declared non-compliant and be suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federation.
“One of our hopes is that they will volunteer that, so that they can take the remedial work in time to make sure that Russian athletes can compete under a new framework if you like,” said Pound at a news conference in Geneva.
The IAAF has since responded with a statement that said it will consider sanctions against Russia, including a possible suspension.
Russia finished second in the medal table at the London 2012 Olympics with 17 medals – eight of them gold. The report concluded that those Games were “more or less sabotaged” by the participation of Russian athletes.
The commission added that the International Olympic Committee should not accept any entries from Russian athletics for the Rio 2016 Olympics next summer, until the body has been deemed to be doping-code compliant.
If Russia doesn’t clean up, “the outcome may be that there are no Russian track and field athletes in Rio,” Pound said.
Pound added, however, that there should still be enough time for Russia to avoid such a scenario, though the remedial work could take several months.
“I think they can do it, I hope they can,” Pound said. “They still have a year.”
The latest scandal to hit the sporting world revolves around accusations that officials demanded money from athletes to “bury” positive tests, which is all the more serious as it directly affected the results on the field of play.
There has never been any indication, for example, that FIFA corruption affected the results of any football matches.
The 350-page report directly accused the Russian state of complicity and said the widespread doping could be “state-sponsored”, even if no written evidence of government involvement was found.
“It would be naive in the extreme to conclude that activities on the scale discovered could have occurred without the explicit or tacit approval of Russian governmental authorities,” the report read.
Pound told reporters Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko must also have known: “It was not possible for him to be unaware of it.”
Moreover, the report said that prior to an inspection of Moscow’s anti-doping lab last December, despite repeated requests to leave samples intact, laboratory director Grigory Rodchenkov ordered 1,417 doping samples to be destroyed to deny evidence for the inquiry.
It’s disappointing to see the nature and the extent of what was going on,” Pound said. “It’s worse than we thought.”