Russia faces ban from athletics for widespread doping offences

Mon Nov 9, 2015 3:05pm EST
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By Brian Homewood

GENEVA (Reuters) - Russia could be banned from international athletics, including the 2016 Olympic Games, after an anti-doping commission report on Monday alleged widespread corruption and collusion that added up to a state-sponsored drugs culture in a sporting superpower.

The commission, set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), found a "deeply rooted culture of cheating" in Russian athletics, which it said Russian state security services colluded with, and also identified what it called systemic failures in the global governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

At one point, the commission said, the WADA-accredited anti-doping laboratory in Moscow destroyed 1,417 samples shortly before an inspection. "This was done on a Saturday morning immediately prior to the arrival in Moscow of a WADA audit team," the report said.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said there was no evidence for the accusations against the Russian Athletics Federation, and that the samples had been destroyed at WADA's request.

IAAF President Sebastian Coe said he was alarmed and surprised by the scale of the revelations, which come days after the IAAF's long-time president, Lamine Diack, was accused by the IAAF of concealing a Russian athlete's doping violations.

"These are dark days," said Coe, Diack's successor. He gave Russia until the end of the week to respond to the accusations, and said the IAAF Council would then discuss possible sanctions.

Dick Pound, the head of the commission that produced the report and a former president of WADA, referred to a corruption scandal now shaking soccer's governing body, FIFA.

"I hope all sports will look at their governance and their anti-doping systems because their existence may be at risk," he told a news conference. "Public opinion is going to move towards the view that all sport is corrupt."   Continued...

Russia's Mariya Savinova smiles as she wins gold in the women's 800m final at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in this August 11, 2012 file photo. REUTERS/Max Rossi/Files