Dop­ing, cor­rup­tion re­port set to rock track and field

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

GENEVA: Ath­let­ics is braced to be rocked yes­ter­day by a damn­ing re­port into al­le­ga­tions of wide­spread dop­ing and black­mail in a sport long-viewed as the flag­ship of the Olympic Games.

Just 270 days out from the start of the 2016 Rio Olympics, an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion set up by the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency (WADA) will re­lease its find­ings into a scan­dal al­ready viewed as more dam­ag­ing than the cor­rup­tion cri­sis en­gulf­ing world foot­ball gov­ern­ing body FIFA.

“This is go­ing to be a real game-changer for sport,” said the re­port’s co-author Richard McLaren.

“You po­ten­tially have a bunch of old men who put a whole lot of ex­tra money in their pock­ets through ex­tor­tion and bribes.”

The com­mis­sion, chaired by former WADA pres­i­dent and Cana­dian lawyer Dick Pound, will re­port on al­le­ga­tions of dop­ing which were first aired in a Ger­man TV doc­u­men­tary in De­cem­ber 2014.

That pro­gramme claimed Rus­sian track and field was plagued by dop­ing.

The Sun­day Times and the ARD chan­nel also ob­tained a data­base be­long­ing to the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) which con­tained more than 12,000 blood tests taken from around 5,000 ath­letes be­tween 2001 to 2012.

Al­le­ga­tions snow­balled last week when the Me­di­a­part news web­site claimed that Rus­sian ath­let­ics chiefs and the sons of the former world body pres­i­dent Lamine Di­ack black­mailed ath­letes sus­pected of dop­ing to let them keep com­pet­ing.

Me­di­a­part said it has seen the re­port which will be made pub­lic yes­ter­day. French po­lice last Tues­day charged 82-year-old Di­ack with cor­rup­tion over sus­pi­cions he took bribes worth over $1 mil­lion.

Me­di­a­part also said six Rus­sian ath­letes, in­clud­ing top marathon run­ner Lilya Shobukhova, were the tar­gets of black­mail at­tempts by Rus­sian ath­let­ics fed­er­a­tion of­fi­cials.

It quoted the WADA re­port as say­ing Shobukhova, who had her ban re­duced af­ter giv­ing ev­i­dence to IAAF in­ves­ti­ga­tors, handed over $569,000 be­tween 2012 and 2014 to a Rus­sian coach, Alexey Mel­nikov, who acted as an in­ter­me­di­ary.

The re­port added that Di­ack’s two sons, Pape Mas­sata Di­ack and Khalil Di­ack, were al­leged to have asked for $500,000 from Turkey’s 1500m women’s Olympic cham­pion Asli Cakir Alptekin in Novem­ber 2012, but she re­fused.

Alptekin was sus­pended in April 2013 for ab­nor­mal blood sam­ples and is now serv­ing an eight-year ban and has been stripped of her Lon­don Olympics and Euro­pean ti­tles. Papa Mas­sata Di­ack will face charges for var­i­ous al­leged breaches of the IAAF Code of Ethics.

He will be joined by three oth­ers at a pri­vate hear­ing be­fore a Panel of the Ethics Com­mis­sion in Lon­don on De­cem­ber 16-18. They are Valentin Balakhnichev, former pres­i­dent of the All-Rus­sia Ath­letic Fed­er­a­tion (ARAF), Mel­nikov, former chief coach of Rus­sia’s long dis­tance walk­ers and run­ners, and Gabriel Dolle, former di­rec­tor of the IAAF’s Anti-Dop­ing Depart­ment.

Balakhnichev had stood down as IAAF trea­surer at the same time as Papa Mas­sata Di­ack’s res­ig­na­tion, while Dolle was also charged with cor­rup­tion by French po­lice.

Cur­rent IAAF pres­i­dent Se­bas­tian Coe on Sun­day ex­pressed his “shock, anger and sad­ness” at the al­le­ga­tions of high-level bribery.

“I’m shocked, an­gry and largely sad­dened,” Coe told AFP. “The al­le­ga­tions that we woke up to around the po­ten­tial for ex­tor­tion and black­mail came out of the blue and the vast ma­jor­ity in the sport prob­a­bly share ex­actly the same emo­tions I’ve just ex­pressed. It’s shock, anger and sad­ness.”

Coe, a two-time Olympic 1500 me­tres gold medal­list for Bri­tain, in­sisted that the IAAF’s anti-dop­ing strat­egy was not com­pletely flawed.

“Our sport was the pi­o­neer­ing part­ner in the blood pass­port,” he said. “It was in­tro­duced in 2009 and the very first sanc­tion was in place in 2011.

“Since then, through the use of the blood pass­port there have been 85 sanc­tions in the whole of sport and 69 of them have come from ath­let­ics. That’s more than any other sport and more than ev­ery other sport put to­gether and in­ter­est­ingly more than through any na­tional anti-dop­ing agency. So no, we’re not com­pla­cent.” — AFP

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