Former top officials get life bans for doping blackmail

Thu Jan 7, 2016 11:19am EST
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By Mitch Phillips

LONDON (Reuters) - Two top Russian athletics officials and the son of former world governing body President Lamine Diack were banned from the sport for life on Thursday for covering up an elite Russian athlete's positive dope test and blackmailing her over it.

The bans follow last year's World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission report that found a state-sponsored culture of doping in Russia and prompted the country's suspension from the sport.

The report shook world athletics and raised doubts over Russia's participation in this year's Olympics Games.

Valentin Balakhnichev, the former head of the Russian athletics federation, the country's former head distance coach Aleksey Melnikov, and Papa Massata Diack, a former marketing consultant to the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) were all handed life bans by the IAAF Ethics Commission.

"We are angered by the betrayal of our sport by these individuals," European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen said in a statement, demanding Balakhnichev be stripped of his Honorary Council member status with the organization.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko, however, accused the IAAF of trying to divert attention away from publication next week of the second part of WADA's investigation which is expected to criticize the world governing body.

"They are correcting their own image," he told Russia's R-Sport agency.

The IAAF's former doping chief Gabrielle Dolle was also banned for five years after all four men were found to have been involved in taking payment for covering up positive drugs tests or turning a blind eye to the activities.   Continued...

Valentin Balakhnichev, President of the All-Russia Athletic Federation, takes part in a ceremony to announce a host city of the IAAF World Athletics Championships in 2013, in the coastal town of Mombasa, Kenya, in this March 27, 2007 file photo. REUTERS/Joseph Okanga/Files