Timeline of Russia’s doping scandal

Sport360 staff 19/07/2016
Stunned: IOC president Thomas Bach described the findings of the report as a “shocking and unprecedented attack on the integrity of sports."

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) could take the first sanctions against Russia on Tuesday over what president Thomas Bach called “a shocking and unprecedented attack” on sport revealed in an investigation into Russian doping.

The move comes after the release of a WADA-requested (World Anti- Doping Agency) report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren which found that the Russian secret service helped athletes cover up doping during the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, with 30 different sports implicated.

Here, we look at the timeline of this doping scandal.

December 2014

German broadcaster ARD airs documentary alleging systematic doping in Russian athletics. A week later, Russian athletics chief and IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev (pictured above) and IAAF marketing consultant Pape Massata Diack, son of then-IAAF president Lamine Diack, step down while corruption and doping allegations are investigated by IAAF’s ethics commission.

World Anti-Doping Agency then sets up an independent commission headed by its former chief, Canadian Dick Pound, to investigate the doping claims.

August 2015

ARD airs second documentary with new accusations aimed at Russian and Kenyan athletes based on a leaked IAAF database with details of 12,000 blood tests from 5,000 competitors which revealed “extraordinary” levels of doping. Sebastian Coe is elected to succeed Diack as IAAF president later that same month.

November 2015

French police charge Lamine Diack with corruption on suspicion the 83-year-old Senegalese accepted bribes to cover up doping cases.

Diack is also charged with money laundering and conspiracy. WADA’s report into the scandal calls on Russia’s track and field team to be banned from international competition, including from the 2016 Rio Olympics, until “state-sponsored” doping is eradicated.

The IAAF’s 26-strong council subsequently suspends the Russian athletics team. WADA also suspends Russia’s national anti-doping body, RUSADA, over non-compliance.

January 2016

IAAF ethics commission bans for life Balakhnichev and Pape Massata Diack over bribes taken to cover up doping failures by Russian athletes. WADA’s second report into doping and corruption is published.

It says IAAF leaders must have known about the wide scope of doping.

May 2016

The former head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, Grigory Rodchenkov, exiled in the United States, describes an organised doping campaign including at least 15 medallists from the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, with the close involvement of the sports ministry and the FSB security service.

Three days after calling the claims “absurd”, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko says he is “ashamed and sorry” over the doping scandal.

June 2016

Fourth ARD programme claims that Russian authorities have been covering up for coaches disgraced by the doping programme, directly pinpointing Mutko for his alleged involvement in the cover-up.

The IAAF Council unanimously votes to extend the ban on the Russian athletics federation, but offers an Olympic lifeline to athletes training outside the Russian system to compete in Rio as neutrals.

July 2016

Canadian law professor Richard McLaren releases a 96-page report for WADA which outlines rampant Russian state-run doping at the Sochi Olympics and other events.

The investigation finds the FSB secret service helped “the state-dictated failsafe system” carried out by the sports ministry and covering 30 sports.

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INTERVIEW: Rio just the start of long journey for Yousif Mirza

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Mirza wants to make the UAE a successful cycling nation.

Just weeks out from the Rio Olympics, Yousif Mirza recalls the biggest challenge he’s faced in his cycling career.

It occurred on the night of May 17, 2015, the first day of Mirza’s rest period off his bicycle. It also happened to be the day after he helped Al Nasr claim the gold medal at the President’s Cup.

Mirza suffered a motorcycle accident in Jumeirah, resulting in broken bones in his legs and shoulder and four ensuing surgeries.

At the time of the crash, the Emirati had already qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympics, but in the immediate aftermath of the accident, he had to come to grips with a heartbreaking reality: his dream of representing his country on the grandest stage could be finished before it even began.

“I thought my career was over,” said the 27-year-old.

Mirza soon realised he had survived a scare. His doctor said he could continue cycling, but would need six months to recover before getting on two wheels again.

Mirza's training plan

  • On training in Europe: “That’s what I need. You will race against the same riders you will race against in the Olympics.”
  • On who he wants to meet at the Olympics: “I want to meet all the big stars from cycling. Not really from other sports.”
  • On most challenging aspect of the Olympics course: “In the last 100 kilometres of the race, we’ll go in a circuit with five laps. In that circuit, there’s one big climb.”

That wasn’t good enough for Mirza. Instead, he travelled to Germany to get his body and surgeries checked and was cleared to return much sooner.

Twenty eight days after the crash, Mirza was back on his bike and raced for the first time since at the Nad Al Sheba Ramadan Tournament on July 3.

“It was something in my head,” Mirza said. “When you think positive, everything will become easier for you.

“I fought and fought and trained hard, doubling what I was training before. So I came back feeling better than before and in-shape.”

Mirza cleared his tallest hurdle yet, but while he’s overjoyed to be heading to his first Olympics this summer to compete in the men’s road race, he admits the lofty expectations placed on his shoulders have been weighing on him.

“Here in the UAE, cycling is new. Everybody thinks reaching the Olympics is easy. It’s not,” he said.

“For me, I want to give the message that I’m at the highest level in cycling.

“Everyone thinks you can win or do something, but I’m going thinking that I have to do my best. I get pressure from people.”

The spotlight on Mirza is magnified thanks to his lone standing atop the sport in the UAE.

He’s won the National Championships UAE four times and earned second in the 2015 Asian Cycling Championships, which sealed his qualification for the Olympics.

Mirza will be the first UAE cyclist to compete in the Games since Ali Sayed Darwish at Atlanta 1996, but he’s eager to see more riders qualify from the emirates in the coming years.

“I’m 27 years old, so I can give to cycling maybe five, six, seven years more. If not me, there will be others, the new generation,” Mirza said. “So I will support all as much as I can to qualify more riders from the UAE for the next Olympics.

“Everything right now is just about one rider in the UAE, Yousif Mirza. But it’s not only me. The team has helped me to reach there. I didn’t work alone.

“Cycling is not an individual sport, it’s more than that.”

To help develop more local cyclists, as well as prepare for Rio, Mirza has assumed a leading role for Al Nasr Pro Cycling Team, a newly-formed squad which was set up earlier this year.

Since its formation, Mirza and his team-mates have participated in the Dubai Tour and races across Europe, in nations like Portugal and Azerbaijan, to increase their exposure.

“We’re getting better and better. That team has helped me in a lot of ways. It’s a good project for UAE cycling,” Mirza said.

“The first goal for this team is to improve local riders. We don’t want professional riders from outside and that’s it. There’s no point to that. If we don’t improve our riders, the project is not correct. That’s what I think.

“Our goal with this team is to improve UAE riders, with the help of coaches, staff and professional riders. It’s like a circle.”

The plan is a long-term one, but Mirza is already in position to showcase the UAE’s talent this summer.

He said: “I will try my best to show the level of our cycling.”

Sport360 will be profiling one UAE-based Olympian each week as part of our build-up to Rio 2016.

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