Russia aims to hit dopers in the pocket
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.