IAAF calls for “immediate” anti-doping sanctions in Russia

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Punishments to come: IAAF's Sebastian Coe.

The IAAF on Thursday called for "immediate" sanctions against Russian athletes and coaches caught doping as a condition for the drugs-tainted national federation to regain membership of world athletics' ruling body.

It also demanded a law in Russia to criminalize sports doping and a system so that athletes can "safely tip-off" authorites about drug cheats.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe said the All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) cannot be readmitted to the world body until all criteria set by the IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are met.

Following recommendations by a WADA independent commission, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) provisionally suspended Russia from international competition, raising the possibility of Russian track stars being excluded from next year's Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Russian sports authorities have remained adamant that the country's track and field athletes will be at the Olympics, pledging to restore the country's IAAF membership within three months.

The IAAF said the ARAF's readmission will be verified a special inspection team "based upon criteria which will be decided by the IAAF in consultation with WADA."

The five principle criteria are headed by "immediate corrective and disciplinary measures" against "all athletes, athlete support personnel, administrators, members or other persons who have committed an anti-doping rule violation or engaged in any kind of intentional act of complicity," said the IAAF in a statement.

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WADA's top policymaking board handed down a declaration of noncompliance to Russia's anti-doping agency on Wednesday.

David Howman, director general, World Anti-Doping Agency also warned that any teams participation in Rio could be jeapordy and said "we're not going to go easy on anybody just for the sake of letting them compete in an event".

– Russia: Federation pays price with IAAF ban

– IAAF: Rooney says Coe response was naive

– Zagorulko: Russia ban 'serious loss' for sport










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Under fire: Sebastian Coe.

I imagine every morning when IAAF President Lord Sebastian Coe wakes up and his phone rings he groans and thinks; what now, can it get any worse. Seems it can. And it will. Much worse.

– Russia: Federation pays price with IAAF ban
– IAAF: Rooney says Coe response was naive
– Zagorulko: Russia ban ‘serious loss’ for sport

Never has the credibility of international athletics been so fragile as it is today. With football and cycling already reeling under accusations of corruption and drug misuse, their indiscretions seem to pale in comparison to what has been happening on the track.

The accusation against Russia for having engaged in a state sponsored programme designed to enhance performances illegally for the 2012 Olympics in London is almost comical in its tragedy.

The provisional ban from taking part in Rio is a stinging rebuke. This shame is backed by the discovery of a Swiss laboratory allegedly destroying 67 test results that were ‘suspicious’ and replacing them with clean ones. This would make such a bad plot for a B grade film.

And to cap these tawdry revelations came the bribery charges by the French police against former IAAF president Lamine Diack and his team which, ironically, included the ex-anti doping chief Gabriel Dolle. Also in the dock is Diack Jr who will face charges of having breached the Code of Ethics. They are accused of having taken huge sums of money to cover up doping incidents by Russian athletes.

And if you think the next ‘guilty’ person is the cleaner, think again. Also on the French ‘wanted’ list is IAAF legal adviser Habib Cisse for having been complicit in this conspiracy. This gives the phrase ‘an inside job’ a whole new dimension. It clearly won’t end here and has made a mockery of records, of performances and of the faith that fans have in the knife edged competitions.

While one does have to say that Lord Coe inherited this bag of worms when he took over in August and is fighting the good fight to clean up the mess it is almost impossible to restore credibility to this sport in the near future and the impact will be felt in Rio.

Good for Coe that he cancelled the high profile IAAF Annual Awards night on November 28 at the Salle des Etoiles of the Sporting Club d’Eté, the customary venue in Monaco seeing as how that upper crust party would have looked terribly indiscreet and self indulgent when the once top cadres of the IAAF are facing such grave charges.

Coe said: “Given the cloud that hangs over our association, this is clearly not the time for the global athletics family to be gathering in celebration of our sport.”

You got that right, Sir except it isn’t a cloud it is a hurricane of gale force and it could destroy athletics as we know it.

Scandals in sport are not new. They happen. But taking bribes for choosing venues or fiddling the books or misusing one’s authority to make a buck while certainly well in the realm of crimes and deserving of punishment are several steps below a trusted leadership engaging in hijacking a whole sport by permitting doping and turning medals into melted plastic. If the guardians of the gate burn the bridge what price trust.

Lord Coe and his team have a very steep hill to climb. And the really sad part is that it is the athletes who suffer. Some totally innocent, others naive and unaware of the programme they were ordered to undergo, several of them victims of the ambitions of their managers and coaches and a few ready to do the dirty for the power and the glory. All of them tainted with the same brush.

The very fact that the nominees like Usain Bolt, British Olympic and World champion Mo Farah, Kenyan marathoner Eliud Kipchoge and Russian hurdler Sergey Shubenkov, Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands, Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia and Zuzana Hejnova of Russia will have to apologetically be sneaked into some lowkey venue at a later date and receive accolades does sour the limelight.

Hanging over all this is the big issue. After the world of athletics had suffered the ignominy of the Ben Johnson and the fallout of the Balco conspiracy there was a call to give participants blood passports.

If the IAAF stamped them knowing they were doubtful in values that makes this disclosure weave the whole nine yards into the biggest scandal in sporting history. And the unravelling has just begun. 

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