Thursday 14 December 2017

WADA 'dismayed' by new allegations surrounding Russian athletes

Russian athletes could miss out on this summer's Olympics
Russian athletes could miss out on this summer's Olympics

Mark Staniforth

The World Anti-Doping Agency has said it is "dismayed" by the latest allegations made by the German broadcaster ARD of continuing violations of doping rules in Russia.

A documentary broadcast on Sunday night alleged an official from the discredited Russian Anti-Doping Agency gave athletes advance warning of testing plans, and that a banned coach continued to operate.

WADA president Craig Reedie vowed WADA would look into the latest revelations, which appear to deal a serious blow to Russia's hopes of having their suspension lifted in time to send an athletics team to the Rio Olympics.

Reedie said: "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.

"The allegations suggest that there is still much, much work to be done in Russia; and, that we will need the full and unwavering cooperation of the Russian authorities to reverse the damage.

"Until this happens, clean athletes won't be able to trust that there is a level playing field."

Reedie added that the allegations were already being examined by the IAAF Taskforce and that they would look at them "without delay and draw the appropriate conclusions".

ARD's original expose of Russian drug testing procedures led indirectly to the nation's suspension from athletics in November.

A subsequent investigation by WADA uncovered widespread cheating and corruption and a complete revamp of the Russian anti-doping agency, RUSADA, was ordered.

In a pre-emptive strike prior to the programme's broadcast on Saturday, Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko dismissed the latest allegations and accused the programme-makers of pursuing a political agenda.

Mutko told the Russian state agency TASS: "The thought occurs that it is an attempt to influence the organisations which are to take the major decisions.

"It happens at the time when Russia - despite the many artificial and politicised accusations - decided to once again, jointly with all the authorized international sports authorities, to adjust its system to remove any allegations."

However, the robust language of WADA's response suggests Russia's hopes of reversing the ban before Rio are becoming increasingly distant.

Reedie added: "I will not hesitate to act swiftly to ensure that any breaches to the 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."

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