Head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory resigns

Fallout from explosive doping report continues as concerns grow over Russian participation in the upcoming Olympics.

The head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory has resigned after being accused of involvement in a state-sponsored doping programme.

“The acting director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, announced his resignation,” said Natalya Zhelanova, an aide to Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.

We have young athletes for whom it will be their first Olympics. And there are those for whom it will be the fifth games. Innocent athletes should not suffer.

by Vitaly Mutko, Russian sports minister

“The minister accepted his resignation and one of the specialists at the laboratory was appointed in his place,” Zhelanova was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency on Wednesday.

Zhelanova added, “the laboratory’s accreditation has been temporarily halted” a day after it was shut in the wake of the doping scandal.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has accused Rodchenkov of being at the heart of a scheme to cover up alleged widespread use of illegal drugs among Russian athletes, including deliberately destroying positive test samples.

His resignation comes after WADA suspended Moscow’s heavily criticised anti-doping laboratory on Tuesday after releasing its explosive, 335-page report on the scandal.

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Sebastian Coe has given the Russian athletics federation (ARAF) “until the end of the week” to respond or risk possible suspension, with the IAAF Council set to meet in Monaco on Friday.

Comply with doping regulations

The Russian sports minister met the heads of organisations singled out for criticism amid concerns his country could be banned from the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next year.

“Today I held consultations with the presidents of WADA and IAAF and I can say that I don’t see insurmountable obstacles to dealing with the situation,” Mutko said.

“We have young athletes for whom it will be their first Olympics. And there are those for whom it will be the fifth games. Innocent athletes should not suffer,” he said.

Olympics chief Thomas Bach has said he expected Russia to comply with doping regulations in time for its athletes to compete at next year’s Rio Olympic Games despite calls for the country to be banned.

An independent commission set up by WADA recommended Russia’s athletics federation be banned from the sport following allegations of widespread corruption and collusion by Russian officials, which include covering up positive drug tests.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it wanted disciplinary procedures to be opened and warned any competitors, coaches, or officials mentioned in the WADA report who were proved to have violated doping regulations would be punished and stripped of medals.

In an interview with New Zealand television on Wednesday, IOC President Bach said he would not speculate on whether all Russian athletes should be banned from the 2016 Olympics.

He said it was up to the IAAF to determine if sanctions were necessary.

“I will not speculate on this,” Bach said. “Now we have this enquiry about athletics, the international federation will draw its conclusion and will take the necessary measures.”

Source: AFP, Reuters