Russia faces being banned from the Rio 2016 Olympics after an investigation revealed doping on a “state-sponsored” size scale in one of sport’s biggest ever scandals.
An independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) revealed that 1,417 samples were deliberately destroyed on the orders of the director of Russia’s drug-testing laboratory – who took cash to cover up positive tests – while there was intimidation of officials by undercover officers from the Russian secret service FSB.
Commission chairman Richard Pound said Russia should be banned from next year’s Olympics, and that the London 2012 Olympics had been “sabotaged” as Russia won 24 gold medals.
His report recommends that five athletes and five coaches, all from Russia, be banned for life.
British sports minister Tracey Crouch called the findings an “extraordinarily dark day for athletics”.
Scottish athlete Lynsey Sharp, upgraded to 2012 European 800m champion following abnormalities in Russian athlete Yelena Arzhakova’s blood passport, took to social media and said: “My guess is the ‘five Russian athletes’ includes at least a couple of female middle distance athletes.”
In his report Pound said: “For the 2016 Olympics our recommendation is that the Russian federation be suspended. One of our hopes is they will volunteer to take the remedial work – if they don’t the outcome may be no Russian track and field athletes in Rio. I hope they recognise it is time to change.”
His report said the Moscow drug-testing laboratory’s “impartiality, judgment and integrity were compromised by the surveillance of the FSB within the laboratory during the Sochi Winter Olympic Games”, and the laboratory director held weekly discussions with the Russian secret service.
“The IC concludes that there was direct intimidation and interference by the Russian state with the Moscow laboratory operations.”
IAAF president Lord Coe said that he will seek urgent approval to consider sanctions against the Russian federation, which could include suspension.
He called the report “alarming” and said: “We need time to digest the detailed findings. However, I have urged the council to start the process of considering sanctions against [the Russian federation]. I am responsible for the conduct of my sport and I want answers from the Russian athletics federation.
“I am tough enough to defend my sport but the point I would emphasise is this is not just limited to athletics or Russia.”