MOSCOW, January 15. /TASS/. Valentin Balakhnichev, a former president of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), told TASS on Friday his decision on an appeal to the Ethics Committee of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will depend largely on whether the Russia team is admitted to take part in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
"I have time till January 28 to take a decision. I am inclined to think that I must go further. I cannot take any decisions on my own because in this case the problem concerns the interests of Russian sports and track-and-field athletics in particular," he said. "If we reach an agreement that Russia’s national team is admitted to the Games in Rio there will be no point to plunge into this case because of me. I will have to seek an advice. But my lawyer says he sees a perspective despite the fact that the CAS [Court of Arbitration for Sports] has never ruled against WADA [World Anti-doping Agency]."
On January 7, the IAAF Ethics Committee suspended for life from all athletics activities Balakhnichev, Papa Massata Diack (a son of IAAF’s ex-President Lamine Diack), as well as Alexei Melnikov, ARAF’s National Team coach for long distance running and race walkers.
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 being caught using performance enhancing drugs.
Balakhichev said it was a politically-motivated move and denied his guilt saying the committee’s proof was not grounded.
The doping row in the track-and-field athletics erupted in December 2014, when Germany’s TV channel ARD aired a documentary claiming Russian athletes were systematically taking prohibited formulas on instructions from their coaches. In the middle of February the veteran president of Russia’s Athletics Federation, Valentin Balakhnichev (who led the federation since 1991) had to quit amid numerous doping scandals.
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.
The second part of the report was published on Thursday.