Russia reacts after ‘systematic doping’ accusations

Media denounce calls for suspensions from all international athletic events – including the upcoming Olympics.

File photo of then-outgoing President of IAAF Diack attending a news conference in Beijing
Former athletics chief Lamine Diack is facing suspension of his honorary membership [Reuters]

The fallout from a damning doping report came fast and furious in Russia’s media on Tuesday after calls for bans on Russian athletes – including from the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero. 

The Kommersant daily called the World Anti-Doping Agency’s report “the biggest attack on Russian domestic sport in history”. 

“A bomb exploded Monday in Geneva,” said the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper, responding to the allegations made from Switzerland. 

The report published on Monday by WADA’s independent commission said the Russian athletics federation should be suspended from all competitions, including the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, citing what it called “systematic doping” and corruption. 

The Russian athletics federation (ARAF) rejected claims that it oversaw “systematic” doping by athletes after calls for the country to be suspended from international competition. 

Speaking to the Associated Press, the Russian federation’s acting president, Vadim Zelichenok, said demands for Russia to be banned from athletics were not “objective” because the organisation’s management changed in the spring, after the cases in the report.

“I don’t believe it is of a systematic nature,” Zelichenok said, adding that Russia had “totally blocked” access to doping products after a string of scandals.

Russia is a traditional powerhouse of athletics and finished second behind the United States in the medal count at the 2012 Olympics with 17 medals, eight of them gold.

Challenging athletics’ doping minefield

The WADA report said, however, that “within the scope of this investigation, there is clear evidence of a systemic culture of doping in Russian sport perpetuated, in part, although not exclusively, through coaches and administrators, whose collective actions at times extended beyond mere administrative violations into potentially criminal acts”.

In the event, by no means certain, that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) were to adopt the commission’s recommendation, Russia could be excluded from major competitions including the Olympics and European Championships.

The scandal revolves around accusations that money was demanded from top athletes to “bury” medical tests showing drug use.


The scandal could prove as damaging to world athletics as the corruption affair now shaking football’s world governing body FIFA, where President Sepp Blatter has been suspended and 14 officials and marketing executives indicted on corruption charges.

A co-author of the commission report, Richard McLaren, said at the weekend its investigation showed a whole different scale of corruption in causing “significant changes to actual results and final standings of international athletics competitions”.

Authorities last week placed former IAAF president Lamine Diack under formal investigation on suspicion of corruption and money laundering.

The 82-year-old Senegalese is alleged to have received more than one million euros ($1.09m) in bribes in 2011 to cover up positive doping tests by Russian athletes, the office of France’s financial prosecutor said.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies