A damning anti-doping report commissioned by WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) has brought to light some astonishing findings which culminated in WADA suggesting that Russian athletes should be banned from competing in future athletics competitions.
An independent commission from WADA investigated reports of widespread doping offences, cover-ups, extortion, corruption, and collusion in Russian athletics which also implicated the global governing body, the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations), due to systematic failures in their operations.
The commission also stated that the Russian Athletics Federation did their utmost to sabotage the investigation from taking place and were running a “state-supported” doping programme, and even destroyed 1,417 samples from athletes that were due to be inspected, shortly before WADA arrived at their laboratory in Moscow. The report said: “”This was done on a Saturday morning immediately prior to the arrival in Moscow of a WADA audit team.”
Additional revelations said that multiple Russian authorities, including the Athletic Federation and doctors and medical staff were guilty of IAAF rule breaches regarding doping and the testing of athletes. The report found the Russian athletes were given advanced notice of random tests, samples had been destroyed and altered and that IAAF and WADA testing standards had not been adhered to and were inadequate to produce conclusive results. The report also revealed that the Russian state had created an atmosphere of intimidation to interfere with WADA laboratory operations in Moscow.
Dick Pound, the chairman of the report, announced his findings at a WADA news conference on Monday, and recommended that Russian athletes should be banned from competing at future events. Pound stated: “One of our hopes is that the Russian Athletics Federation will volunteer to take part in the remedial work. If they don’t then the outcome may be no Russian track and field athletes in the next Olympic Games in Rio. I hope they recognise it is time to change and clean up their involvement in the sport of athletics.”
These incidences of cover-ups, drug scandals, and corruption are also reported to have affected the London 2012 Olympic Games which the report says was “sabotaged” by “widespread inaction” against certain athletes with suspicious doping profiles. After further testing and investigations were carried out, the report suggested that five Russian athletes and coaches should be given lifetime bans from the sport.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe has said that the Russian Athletics Federation has been asked to respond to these numerous allegations by the end of the week. Alarmed, deeply shocked and surprised at the scale of the allegations, he also stated that the IAAF “would look at a range of possible options” of how to approach the issue, including implementing severe “sanctions” on those involved, which may include lifetime bans from the sport. Lord Coe added: “I will do whatever is necessary. This is not a swift road back.”
The former long-standing IAAF president who is currently under formal investigation for claims of bribery during his time at the helm of the IAAF, Lamine Diack said that “these are dark days for athletics” and echoes the views of Lord Coe saying that severe sanctions should be imposed on those implemented in the scandal.
Since these allegations have come to light, a number of prominent athletes and former competitors in the sports have expressed their concerns. Marathon world record holder, Paula Radcliffe took to Twitter and wrote: “Suspected some of this for years but way worse than imagined. Athletics needs to take strong action and move quickly forward in right direction.”
British heptathlete Louis Hazel said: “”I am disappointed but I am not surprised that doping continues to be rife through the world of athletics. I have been in situations where I have seen athletes doping right before my eyes. Giving athletes a two-year ban and allowing them to come back to compete for gold medals is just not good enough. Full-time bans and you are out of the sport. Simple as that.”
Many athletes and those involved in the sport agree with these statements and feel that touch sanctions and lifetime bans need to be imposed on those involved in doping, to remove this dark cloud covering the sport of athletics and prevent it from returning in the future.