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IAAF says to stay clear of Russian VTB Bank’s intended lawsuits against WADA

The bank CEO earlier announced that VTB is in preparations of lawsuits against 10 members of WADA, which earlier recommended a probe into bank’s membership in the IAAF’s sponsorship pool

MOSCOW, January 22. /TASS/. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will stay clear of possible court hearings between the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and Russia’s leading state-controlled lender VTB Bank, IAAF’s press service announced on Friday.

Andrey Kostin, the head of the bank, announced earlier in the day that VTB Bank had been in preparations of lawsuits against 10 members of WADA, which earlier recommended a probe into bank’s membership in the IAAF’s (International Association of Athletics Federations) sponsorship pool.

"This is a matter not for the IAAF but for VTB," the said in letter addressed to TASS.

In an interview with Russia’s Rossiya-24 television channel earlier in the day, Kostin said in particular: "I have decided that I cannot tolerate this anymore, although I am accustomed to many things in my life."

"I have issued relevant orders to my lawyers. We are preparing lawsuits at the moment," he added.

WADA’s Independent Commission published last week 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 IAAF, including Papa Massata Diack (a son of IAAF’s ex-President Lamine Diack), ex-chief of All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) Valentin Balakhnichev and a Russian television official, which discussed the cost of TV broadcasting rights for the 2013 Athletics Championship estimated at $6 million.

WADA’s report included an allegation concerning 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.

The Associated Press news agency reported last Thursday 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 VTB Bank.

"This is certainly an outrageous lie," Kostin said commenting on the pressed allegations. "We do see coming constantly from the West, I would say, such sophisticated approaches."

"It seems that they are not accusing us of anything and nobody speaks up directly," Kostin said. "However, they say that we have a contract on our hands and let us take a look at it."

"We did have sponsorship contract with IAAF and it was between 2007 and 2015," he said. "We never alternated payments and they stood at $6-7 million per year. In exchange we received a coherent sponsorship fee. The sum of $25 million is the sum paid for 4-5 years and not per year alone. Moreover, it had never to do anything with the issue of doping abuse."

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 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.