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Russia’s track and field doping scandal makes Lance Armstrong’s look tame

WADA’s Independent Commission: Press Conference
International sports may never be the same. Spurred by allegations in the 2014 German documentary “The Secrets of Doping: How Russia Makes Its Winners” the World Anti Doping Association (WADA) launched an independent investigation headed by Canadian lawyer Dick Pound, into Russian athletics practices and labs. The results published in this report, released November 9, found a “deeply rooted culture of cheating,” including confirmations that athletes cheated and doctors, coaches, and the labs encouraged it.

The report names names on who was in on the secret, and identifies aiders and abettors including the director of the Moscow accredited laboratory. Pound said, “We’ve found cover ups, we found destruction of samples in the laboratories, we’ve found payments of money in order to conceal doping tests, among others.”

It’s being called state-sanctioned doping, and it’s not just a conspiracy theory. Pound said, “We’re not dealing with a ‘he said-she said;’ we had documents and recordings, witness statements, and so forth to deal with.”

Initially, President Putin’s spokesman denied the accusations. According to ABC news, former president of the Russian athletics federation, Valentin Balakhnichev, asserted he would go to the Court of Arbitration for Sport to clear his name. Balakhnichev ended his twenty-year career by resigning in February after doping cases came to light. He was not included in the WADA report.

This gesture likely won’t help. Pound said, “We’ve reported on interference with doping controls on many occasions, not just in the past, but up to and including the middle of this year well after it was known this investigation was underway.”

According to the BBC, acting president of the Russian athletics federation Vadim Zelichenok gave TASS a partial admission, saying “We agreed with some of WADA’s positions.” Zelichenok went on, “We explained that all these irregularities happened under the old leadership of the Russian athletics federation and took place some time ago.”

The report indicated athletes used oral and injectable steroids at the same time, “stacking,” as it was called. There was also “pyramiding,” cycling doses over a month and a half to three months, increasing usage then tapering off. Oxygen expanders and blood storage were also included as ways of boosting red blood cells before competition.

Since the report’s release, WADA suspended Moscow’s drug testing lab. Lamine Diack, former IAAF president was detained in France earlier this month on charges of money laundering and corruption linked to Russian doping cover-ups. Compared to this, Lance looks like an angel.

When a journalist asked Pound what he thought should be done about Russia’s participation in the upcoming Olympics, Pound answered, “For 2016 our recommendation is that the Russian Federation be suspended. In fact, one of our hopes is they volunteer that.” The IAAF is expected to announce a decision about the immediate fate of Russian track and field on Friday.

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