By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s anti-doping chief has called for the dismissal of all national team athletics coaches and the creation of an international working group to help lift the suspension against the country’s athletics federation, a letter seen by Reuters on Wednesday showed.
Russia’s athletics federation has been suspended since 2015 over a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that found evidence of mass doping in the sport.
The federation had since been trudging towards reinstatement until World Athletics, the sport’s global governing body formerly known as the IAAF, last month halted the process after its president and six others were provisionally suspended for breaches of anti-doping rules.
In his five-page letter, Yuri Ganus, the head of Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA, said the country needed to dismiss all national team coaches and create an international working group to help investigate a wide range of doping cases in the country.
The cases include banned coaches continuing to work with athletes and the provision of forged documents to justify missed tests by high jumper Danil Lysenko, which led to the provisional suspension of seven people last month.
Reuters reported in June that two Russian athletics coaches and one doctor continued to work with athletes despite serving doping bans.
Ganus in May had called for the president of the Russian athletics federation to step down, as well as a string of other reforms.
He said on Wednesday that his calls had been ignored by the country’s sports authorities.
“The result is catastrophic,” Ganus told Reuters in separate comments. “I think that our women and men in athletics deserve the best. They deserve to have the right to compete at the world’s top venues without any restrictions.”
Ganus’ call comes at a time of turmoil in Russian sport. The country finds itself on the brink of a four-year ban from the Olympics after Moscow was found to have provided WADA with doctored laboratory data.
Under recommendations made by WADA’s compliance review committee, some Russians without a history of doping could be cleared to compete in major international events as neutrals, as was the case at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics.
WADA’s executive committee will rule on recommendations on Dec. 9 in Lausanne.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ed Osmond)