The Russia Olympic Committee proclaimed on Saturday its resolve to revamp the entire Russia Athletics program. This powerful organization will quickly seek to establish order by conducting its own probe, replacing leaders, reforming anti-doping testing practices, and disciplining both officials and athletes. “Anyone found guilty of using illegal drugs or anyone who facilitated or was complicit in their use must be punished,” ROC President Alexander Zhukov said in an AP interview.
Triggering these actions was a scathing World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigative 323-page report released on Monday that cited widespread corruption, bribery, and cover-up among Russian organizations involved in state-supported doping practices. In response, the International Association of Athletics Federations on Friday levied a sweeping provisional suspension upon Russian athletics. In effect, Russian track and field athletes are now provisionally barred from competing in international competitions, including the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.
Earlier this week, Russian heads from such organizations as the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) initially challenged these reported allegations that athletes were supplied with illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and that failed test results were covered-up.
ARAF interim lead Vadim Zelichyonok said, “We haven’t had time to get acquainted with all of it, but we aren’t in agreement with many of the points” from the report released by former WADA president Dick Pound, who lead the investigative team. RUSADA Director Nikita Kamaev further criticized the cited allegations as “unprofessional, illogical and declarative,” according to RIA Novosti, a state news agency.
Seeking to have the provisional ban lifted, the ROC will clean house by “ensuring the coordination of the already ongoing thorough investigation by the national authorities (ARAF, RUSADA) in Russia.” Further, it will partner with both the WADA and IAAF to address the report’s findings. “We will develop a joint road map and try do it quickly. I think we can do all the work in two to three months,” Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said in an on-line statement.
These steps are long-overdue, and vows to enact these measures raise the proverbial “fox guarding the hen house suspicions” – even among the Russian population itself. A respected Russian sports website, Sports.ru, conducted a poll on Tuesday revealing tell-tale results. In response to the question, “Do you believe that Russian sport is clean?,” a notable 68 percent selected a response of “No, it has long been burning in Hell.”
“We will get the change we want and only then will Russian athletes return to international competition,” the resolute IAAF President Sebastian Coe said in a BBC interview.