MOSCOW, February 17. /TASS/. The All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) has submitted several lawsuits against German television channel ARD for airing in December 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.
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 last month 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 the wake of the scandal 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.