Russian government-funded doping program exposed

Nov 9, 2015 | News, Sports

Dick Pound (courtesy Reuters)

Dick Pound speaks at a news conference revealing Russian doping scandal (courtesy Reuters)

By Andy Redding

A World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report has recommended Russia’s athletic federation be suspended, amidst allegations of widespread government funded corruption.

Written by an independent investigation chaired by Canadian lawyer and former WADA president Dick Pound, the report accuses the Russian government of covering up its track and field athletes’ doping. It says that all Russian track and field athletes should be banned from competition until they improve their standards.

“Our recommendation is that the Russian Federation be suspended,” said Pound in a news conference in Geneva Monday.

The report goes on to single out Russian athletes, including the gold and bronze medalists in the women’s 800-metre event at the London 2012 Olympics, who should specifically be suspended for life.

The report added that even Russia’s intelligence agency, the FSB, was involved, as it spied on the country’s anti-doping lab in Moscow at last year’s Sochi Olympics.

“What made these allegations even more egregious was the knowledge that the government of the Russian Federation provides direct funding and oversight for the above institutions, thus suggesting that the federal government was not only complicit in the collusion, but that it was effectively a state-sponsored regime,” the report stated.

“It’s worse than we thought,” said Pound. “Unlike other forms of corruption it affected results on the field of play.”

The investigation took 1o months, and found elements of state-run doping schemes that echo those of East Germany in the 1970’s.

Among the findings of the report, it identified the malicious destruction of over 1,400 samples in a Moscow lab after WADA demanded they be preserved.

The report comes less than a year before the Rio Olympics, and could directly affect them.

“The outcome may be that there are no Russian track and field athletes in Rio,” said Pound.

While the report focuses on track and field athletics specifically, the findings might cast a dark shadow on the sporting world, according to Pound.

“Public opinion is going to move toward the opinion that all sport is corrupt,” said Pound.

While the findings from the report may be jarring to the athletic world, there could be more to come according to Pound, who called this the “tip of the iceberg”.

Athletes React

The release of the report has track and field athletes around the world enraged, calling for swift action and change in anti-doping practices in athletics.