The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has provisionally suspended Russia from competing in track and field events at next year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics and other international competitions.
The decision was made in a 22-1 member vote following the release of a scathing World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report earlier this week that unearthed the extent of a state-sponsored doping program in Russian sport.
“Today we have been dealing with the failure of ARAF and made the decision to provisionally suspend them, the toughest sanction we can apply at this time,” IAAF president Seabastien Coe said in a statement. “But we discussed and agreed that the whole system has failed the athletes, not just in Russia, but around the world.”
“This has been a shameful wake up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated. To this end, the IAAF, WADA, the member federations and athletes need to look closely at ourselves, our cultures and our processes to identify where failures exist and be tough in our determination to fix them and rebuild trust in our sport. There can be no more important focus for our sport.”
The suspension also means Russia will not be able to host the 2016 World Race Walking Team Championships in Cheboksary and the 2016 World Junior Championships in Kazan.
WADA’s report has recommended that five Russian athletes and five coaches be banned from the sport for life, in addition to making serious major reforms in Russia’s sport system and anti-doping policies.
In a rare move, Russia has admitted to some wrongdoing and ruled out an Olympic boycott with its allies as it did during the Soviet era for the 1984 Los Angeles Summer Games, The Associated Press reports.
The damning allegations highlighted in the WADA report, led by Canadian International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound, include:
- Corruption and collusion among elite athletes, coaches, regulatory officials, and sports agencies to systemically provide Russian athletes performing enhancing drugs.
- Russian athletes were exploited to accept unethical behaviours and practices as the norm in their sport. If the athletes were unwilling to participate in the doping program, they would not have access to neither high calibre coaching assistance nor be considered as part of the federation’s national team.
- A high percentage of Russian athletes were unwilling to participate in WADA’s investigation, which found that athletes were not filing accurate contact information for whereabouts purposes.
- Doctors, coaches and laboratory personnel are also involved. More than 1,400 samples at Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory were destroyed shortly before WADA was scheduled to arrive for an inspection, even after laboratory officials had received written notification to preserve target samples.
- Russian security services allegedly spied on the Moscow laboratory and temporary Sochi laboratory for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. During the 2014 Games, labs and offices were bugged, and spy agents were pretending to be lab engineers. The report infers laboratory staff were working in an atmosphere of intimidation and that there were many instances of inadequate testing and poor compliance to WADA testing standards.
Interpol is slated to initiate a investigation into the criminal nature of the doping allegations based on WADA’s findings.
Russia claimed 18 medals in the athletics events at the London 2012 Summer Olympics, including eight gold medals, five silver medals, and five bronze medals. The report asserts the London Games were “sabotaged by the admission of [Russian] athletes who should not have been competing, and could have been prevented from competing.”