The world Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is threatening to ban Russia from the Olympic Games as punishment for running a "systematic doping program" for its track-and-field athletes.
The agency has released a report which, among other things, claims that Russia's Federal Security Service "directly interfered" with a Moscow laboratory that had been set up to test the country's top and emerging athletes. It also implicated athletes, coaches, and doctors in efforts to conceal doping.
Former Olympic medalist and now president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), Sebastian Coe has called on the organization to consider sanctions against Russia, including banning it from the next Olympics and world championships.
We will do whatever it takes to protect the clean athletes and rebuild trust in our sport,” says Coe. “The IAAF will continue to offer the police authorities our full co-operation into their ongoing investigation.”
On Sunday, French prosecutors said they were investigating former IAAF President Lamine Diack for allegedly accepting bribes from the Russian athletics federation in exchange for covering up positive doping tests of its athletes.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has provisionally suspended Diack’s honorary membership until the investigation is complete. In a statement, the IOC says if appropriate, it would react to the WADA report "with its usual zero tolerance policy."
The report found “there were organized efforts on the part of many senior coaches and officials, inside and outside Russia, to promote doping and make it possible for such efforts to be successful, including the cover-up of certain positive cases of doping."
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has come out fighting against WADA, saying it only has the power to make recommendations, which Russia will reply to later. He says WADA does not have any right to sideline athletes or coaches.
Russian athletics has long been suspected of doping. Suspicions have emerged over recent years with several of its top race walkers sanctioned during the summer after IAAF ordered blood tests showed “aggravating circumstances”.