Doping should be criminal offense: Russia chief

Fri Feb 6, 2015 3:44pm EST
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By Dmitriy Rogovitskiy

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Athletics Federation (VFLA) president Valentin Balakhnichev wants doping to become a criminal offense in his country, he said on Friday.

"We need to treat doping as a class A drug," the 65-year-old Balakhnichev, who will leave his post this month, told Reuters.

Russian athletics has recently been rocked by a number of doping revelations. Three Olympic walk champions, Olga Kaniskina, Valery Borchin and Sergei Kirdyapkin, were found guilty of doping offences and handed long bans in January.

This led to the head coach of the Russian athletics team, Valentin Maslakov, resigning on Jan. 23 while Balakhnichev will step down on Feb. 17 having been president since 1990.

Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA suspended a number of athletes in January, including Kaniskina, Borchin and Kirdyapkin.

A German television documentary, broadcast by ZDF/ARD in December, alleged systematic doping in Russian sport.

It featured an undercover video of what it said were athletes and coaches admitting covering up positive drug tests.

The allegations have not been verified by Reuters and Balakhnichev has previously denounced them as "a pack of lies".   Continued...