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Russian athletics ex-chief rejects accusations of altered 2013 IAAF broadcast rights cost

January 15, 2016, 19:49 UTC+3

The Russian athletics ex-chief thus rejected corruption allegations pressed against him in a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency

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Valentin Balakhnichev

Valentin Balakhnichev

© Mikhail Japaridze/TASS

MOSCOW, January 15. /TASS/. The cost of TV broadcasting rights for the 2013 IAAF Championship held in Moscow was set in 2011 and remained unchanged, former head of the All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) Valentin Balakhnichev told TASS on Friday.

The Russian athletics ex-chief thus rejected corruption allegations pressed against him in a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

WADA’s Independent Commission published on Thursday its Part 2 report, which says, in particular, that a meeting was held in Moscow in 2012 with the participation of three representatives of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), including Papa Massata Diack (a son of IAAF’s ex-President Lamine Diack), Balakhnichev and a Russian television official, which discussed the cost of TV broadcasting rights for the 2013 Athletics Championship estimated at $6 million.

The Associated Press news agency reported on Thursday morning that as a result the cost of the broadcasting rights was increased from $6 million to $25 million after agreement between Papa Massata Diack and a leading Russian bank.

However, the Russian athletics ex-head rejected these accusations.

"The TV broadcasting rights were discussed already in Daegu in 2011 during the World Championship. At that time, the price was set at $6 million and was no longer changed," Balakhnichev said.

"They are linking many incomparable things and making the conclusions about the guilt of participants on the basis of conjectures. They have no materials or records. This is a very strange form of juridical actions," Balakhnichev said.

One of the stated allegations in WADA’s report concerns the legitimacy of Russian bank VTB sponsorship deal with the IAAF, initially inked in 2007 and extended for two more years in 2013, and the bank’s alleged acquisition of broadcasting rights for the 2013 IAAF World Championship in Moscow.

On January 7, the IAAF Ethics Committee suspended for life from all athletics activities Balakhnichev, Papa Massata Diack as well as Alexei Melnikov, ARAF’s National Team coach for long distance running and race walkers.

"The fraud and corruption perpetrated by the rogue group forming the illegitimate informal governance structure was facilitated by Balakhnichev’s presence within the formal governance structure of the IAAF. Information provided to Balakhnichev by HC allowed ARAF and some Russian athletics coaches to enable Russian athletics athletes to continue competing despite being dirty [i.e. doped]," the report from WADA said.

The Ethics Committee found Balakhnichev guilty of entering a conspiracy with Diack and Melnikov against opening proceedings on doping-abuse charges in regard to Russian athlete Lilia Shobukhova. The later allegedly transferred money to the officials at the issue to avoid suspension after caught using performance enhancing drugs.

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

The Independent Commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) published on November 9 the first part of the results of its probe into the activities of the ARAF, the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the Russian Sports Ministry.

The commission accused certain athletes and sports officials of doping abuse and involvement in other activities related to violations of international regulations on performance enhancing substances.

RUSADA and the Moscow anti-doping laboratory subsequently suspended their activities, while WADA’s Board of Founders approved the decision of the agency’s Independent Committee that RUSADA did not comply with the Code of the international anti-doping organization.

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.

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

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, 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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