Wednesday 21 August 2019

Russia's anti-doping laboratory chief resigns

A building of the federal state budgetary institution
A building of the federal state budgetary institution "Federal scientific centre of physical culture and sports", which houses a laboratory led by Grigory Rodchenkov and accredited by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in Moscow, Russia. Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin

The head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory has resigned, hours after it was stripped of its right to test samples.

A World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) commission had called for a life ban for lab director Grigory Rodchenkov.

In a report released on Monday, Wada accused him of covering up positive doping tests, extorting money from athletes and destroying 1,417 samples before inspectors visited.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko told Russia's Tass news agency that Mr Rodchenkov "took the decision to resign to take all the negatives away with him" as the lab begins a reform process.

Wada suspended the lab's accreditation on Tuesday and said samples will be transported "securely, promptly and with a demonstrable chain of custody" to an alternative Wada-accredited lab.

The announcement came shortly after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said it would be ready to strip medals from any Russian athletes found guilty by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) of doping violations.

The IOC has also provisionally suspended Lamine Diack as an honorary member after the former IAAF president was placed under investigation in France on corruption charges.

Mr Diack served as a full IOC member for 15 years until 2014, when he became an honorary member. He stepped down in August as president of the IAAF.

He was detained last week and charged by French authorities with corruption and money laundering linked to the cover-up of Russian doping cases.

Meanwhile, Russian president Vladimir Putin is due to meet the head coach of the country's track federation, two days after the Wada report accused Russia of a vast state-sponsored doping programme.

The Russian track federation said head coach Yuri Borzakovsky, a former Olympic 800-metre champion, will meet Mr Putin at a sports centre in Sochi on Wednesday.

While the meeting between Mr Putin and Russian sports leaders was planned as a discussion of preparations for next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, acting federation president Vadim Zelichenok said the doping allegations could be discussed.

Mr Zelichenok said: "There may be a conversation, but not necessarily within the framework of the main meeting."

The Wada report accused Russia of widespread doping and cover-ups affecting track and field athletes, including Olympic medallists.

It said that agents from the FSB intelligence service interfered with the work of a doping laboratory during last year's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Russian officials fought back against the report on Tuesday, saying it failed to prove its main points and suggesting the existence of a conspiracy to vilify Russia.

Mr Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: "As long as there is no evidence, it is difficult to consider the accusations, which appear rather unfounded."

Russia has been threatened with suspension from track and field competitions, including next year's Olympics.

Earlier in the day, Mr Zelichenok said in comments quoted by Russian media that the report contains "an element of material made to order", without specifying who might have manipulated the report.

Mr Zelichenok also appealed to the sport's governing body to show "prudence" and allow Russian track and field athletes to compete at next year's Olympics.

PA Media

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