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Russian athletics federation to sue German ARD TV channel over doping scandal next week

January 27, 2015, 20:46 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The ARD’s two-part documentary, entitled Geheimsache Doping (Secret Doping Case) claimed that some Russian athletes had systematically taken prohibited formulas on instructions from their coaches
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© EPA/CHRISTOPHE KARABA

MOSCOW, January 27. /TASS/. The All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) will submit two lawsuits next week against German television channel ARD for airing last month a series of documentaries about alleged doping abuse by Russian athletes, ARAF President Valentin Balakhnichev said on Tuesday.

Russia fell in the focus of a doping scandal in early December, when German television aired a series of documentaries about alleged doping abuse by Russian athletes. The ARD’s two-part documentary, entitled Geheimsache Doping (Secret Doping Case) claimed that some Russian athletes had systematically taken prohibited formulas on instructions from their coaches.

"We held consultations with German lawyers specializing on such cases," Balakhnichev told TASS. "I believe that next week the federation will submit two lawsuits against ARD. We speak about the nonintervention into a private life and casting aspersions on the federation’s reputation."

"We have been intimidated by accusations voiced in the film and will be seeking justice in court," Balakhnichev added.

Earlier in the day the ARAF president said that the federation conducted its own investigation and established that that "the text of the narrator in German language did not match the real words," spoken by Russian athletes in the documentaries.

Moreover, the recording was obviously edited and the authors of the film are serious rooks."

The main characters in the documentaries are athlete Yulia Stepanova and her husband Vitaly Stepanov, who used to work the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), and they accused the ARAF of allegedly being behind doping abuse by Russian athletes. Accusations were also voiced in the documentaries by former coach of the Russian national team Oleg Popov as well as athletes Yevgeniya Pecherina and Valentin Kruglyakov, who were both earlier suspended over doping abuse.

A video recording used in the film showed 2012 Olympic champion in 800-meters run Maria Savinova speaking about doping use in Russian athletics. ARD also used another recording with Savinova’s coach Vladimir Kazarin, who was allegedly giving a prohibited performance enhancing drug to another athlete.

The ARAF was hit by another high-profile doping scandal last week with the involvement of titled Russian athletes.

RUSADA announced a week ago that Olympic Champions in race walk Valery Borchin, Sergey Kirdyapkin and Olga Kaniskina as well as Russia’s 2011 World Champion Sergey Bakulin and 2011 World Championship silver medalist Vladimir Kanaikin were suspended after they were found guilty of violating anti-doping regulations. Their suspension was based on irregularities in their biological passports, which were indicators to abuse of performance enhancing drugs.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said on Friday that his ministry would initiate changes and reshuffle of posts in the administration and the coaching staff of the ARAF if necessary.

Balakhnichev, 65, said in an interview with TASS last week that he would be ready to resign from his post only after he settled all issues connected with doping scandals.

Kaniskina, Kirdyapkin and Bakulin were each handed by RUSADA suspension terms of three years and two months, while Borchin was disqualified for the term of eight years. Kanaikin was disqualified for life. The suspension terms come into force as of October 15, 2012 meaning that Borchin will be ineligible to compete at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro.

Borchin and Kaniskina are 2008 Beijing Olympics champions in 20 km Walk. Kaniskina is also a silver medalist of the 2012 Olympics in London in women’s 20 km Walk. Kirdyapkin won the Olympic gold in men’s 50 km Walk at the 2012 Summer Games in London. This is a second suspension penalty for Borchin, 28, as he was already subjected to a one-year disqualification in 2005 also on doping abuse charges.

Race walker Bakulin won his world champion’s title in men’s 50 km walk at the 2011 World Championships in South Korea’s Daegu.

Following the suspensions, Kirdyapkin will be deprived of his 2009 World Championship’s gold medal in men’s 50 km walk. Kaniskina and Borchin will be deprived of their 2009 and 2011 World Championships’ gold medals. Bakulin and Kanaikin will lose their gold and silver medals respectively won at the 2011 World Championship.

The press service of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) told TASS on Wednesday that the issue of annulling Olympic medals from the banned athletes was solely in the competence of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

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