(Reuters) - The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) was dismayed by revelations in a German TV documentary that contained fresh allegations of malpractice in Russia’s anti-doping system and is urgently seeking confirmation, it said on Monday.
Amongst the claims in Sunday’s ARD program were that Russian coaches suspended in the worst corruption and doping scandal to hit the sport were still working in athletics, while others continued to provide banned substances to athletes.
“WADA has viewed and is dismayed by the revelations in yesterday’s television documentary (which) contains new allegations suggesting malpractice by a number of individuals involved in the Russian anti-doping system,” WADA said in a statement.
“WADA will verify these allegations and, in particular, seek confirmation as to when the evidence was collected.”
Russia has been suspended from international track and field in the wake of a report exposing widespread cheating and corruption and has been ordered by world athletics’ governing body, the International Association of Athletics’ Federations (IAAF), and WADA, to show evidence of a change of culture and practice in fighting doping.
The country, second only to the United States in the sport’s pecking order, will be allowed to return to competition, including this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, only when it can prove to WADA and the IAAF that it has met a series of conditions regarding its anti-doping operation.
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko on Sunday dismissed the latest TV claims, telling Reuters: “These facts have once again been taken out of context and are an attempt to mislead the public.
“We have a huge country, with 83 regions. It is possible that a banned coach could be working somewhere, but certainly not with the national team and not at official events.”
WADA president Craig Reedie, however, said questions needed to be answered.
“At a time when trust in sport is wafer thin, these troubling assertions will do little to reinforce confidence in the Russian anti-doping system when clean athletes need it most,” he said.
“The next important step is to install two international experts in Russia to ensure that the anti-doping system is free of undue interference and is fully independent.
“I will not hesitate to act swiftly to ensure that any breaches to the (WADA) Code are dealt with firmly and expeditiously.
“Strong and decisive action by all sporting authorities is imperative if clean athletes, and indeed the public at large, are to retain belief in the integrity of sport.”
Editing by Ken Ferris