Rus­sia aims to hit dop­ers in the pocket

The Hamilton Spectator - - SPORTS - JAMES ELLINGWORTH

Rus­sia wants to hit dop­ers where it hurts — in their bank ac­counts.

In a push to re­store Rus­sia’s sport­ing rep­u­ta­tion af­ter nu­mer­ous dop­ing scan­dals, the gov­ern­ment has ap­proved a plan to re­claim prize money and gov­ern­ment grants from ath­letes who are found to be cheat­ing.

Sev­eral Rus­sian ath­letes have been able to hold onto large sums, de­spite be­ing caught dop­ing.

In a pack­age of anti-dop­ing mea­sures signed Mon­day, Prime Min­is­ter Dmitry Medvedev or­dered the Rus­sian Sports Min­istry and na­tional sports fed­er­a­tions to de­velop a scheme for “con­fis­cat­ing in­come and prop­erty from ath­letes, coaches, doc­tors and other spe­cial­ists” in­volved in dop­ing cases.

It wasn’t spec­i­fied how this would be achieved.

The Sports Min­istry has pre­vi­ously faced al­le­ga­tions from World Anti-Dop­ing Agency in­ves­ti­ga­tors that its own staff cov­ered up dop­ing.

Be­sides prize money from com­pe­ti­tions, Rus­sian ath­letes of­ten get lav­ish re­wards from the state, and many keep them even if banned as drug cheats.

Gold medal­lists from the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, for ex­am­ple, re­ceived four mil­lion rubles ($70,000 US) from a public-pri­vate fund, plus a white BMW SUV in a cer­e­mony at the Krem­lin.

Re­gional gov­ern­ments also handed out apart­ments, cars and, in one case, even a horse.

Or­ga­niz­ers of many in­ter­na­tional sports events re­quire ath­letes to pay back prize money if they’re later dis­qual­i­fied over a failed drug test.

How­ever, en­forc­ing these rules is dif­fi­cult.

The threat of fur­ther sport­ing sanc­tions is mean­ing­less for an ath­lete who has re­tired or is banned for life.

The pack­age of mea­sures signed Mon­day also in­cludes plans to stop those who com­mit dop­ing of­fences from tak­ing jobs as coaches or state sports of­fi­cials, a com­mon oc­cur­rence in Rus­sia.

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