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Russia's IAAF membership suspension temporary — Russian sports minister

November 14, 2015, 11:02 UTC+3 MOSCOW
Twenty-two International Association of Athletics Federations members voted for suspension of ARAF membership at an extraordinary session
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© EPA/JEAN-CHRISTOPHE BOTT, Archive

MOSCOW, November 14. /TASS/. The decision to suspend the membership of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), adopted by the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), is temporary and a special commission is yet to examine the situation, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told TASS.

Twenty-two IAAF members voted for suspension of ARAF membership at an extraordinary session. One was against and three abstained.

"This ARAF suspension is temporary," Mutko said. "A special commission will make things clear. I am convinced that everything can still be rectified."

Athletics doping scandal

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission delivered on November 9 a report on its investigation into doping abuse allegations involving Russian athletes and recommended that the IAAF suspend all athletes of the ARAF from participation in international competitions.

This could deprive domestic athletes of the chance to take part in the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. If the ARAF is disqualified, the IAAF will set conditions under which the Russian athletics federation will be able to take part in events under IAAF auspices again.

It also recommended on November 9 to ban for life five Russian athletes and five coaches over their involvement in doping abuse violations as well as to strip the Moscow anti-doping laboratory of its license and fire its director Grigory Rodchenkov in connection with numerous violations of anti-doping regulations.

The report claims former ARAF President Valentin Balakhnichev took bribes from athletes for covering up positive doping tests.

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said November 9 commenting on the WADA Independent Commission’s report that allegations against Russian sportsmen over the massive use of doping performance enhancing drugs were groundless and not backed up by evidence so far.

The Russian Sports Ministry, in turn, advised WADA to focus on real facts during the investigation against Russian athletes.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in June his deep disappointment with the rise of positive doping cases registered among Russian athletes and called to enhance the fight against the abuse of performance enhancing drugs.

Putin said at a meeting with athletes in Sochi on November 11 that it is necessary to fight doping in sports.

Richard Pound, the head of the WADA Independent Commission told a news conference on November 9 that the delivered report was only the first part and the final text of the investigation’s findings would be published by the end of the year.

The WADA Independent Commission was set up and began its work earlier following a series of German documentaries on the alleged mass use of performance enhancing drugs among Russia’s track and field athletes.

In December 2014 German TV Channel ARD aired a series of documentaries on alleged doping abuse in Russian sports. The ARD’s two-part documentary, entitled Geheimsache Doping (Secret Doping Case), claimed that Russian athletes systematically took banned substances on instructions from their coaches.

On August 1 this year ARD released another documentary "Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics." The film claimed that ARD and British newspaper The Sunday Times had obtained a leaked database belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which contained more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012.

ARD further alleged that a third of medals (146, including 55 golds) in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests but none of these athletes have been stripped of their medals.

The Sunday Times also alleged that Russian athletes suspected of doping abuse had won 80% of medals for their country at Olympic Games and World Championships between 2001 and 2012.

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