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Friday 07, Oct 2016

  IOC Must Redeem Itself After Rio Failure, Says iNADO

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The 59-member global Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations (iNADO) said in a strongly-worded statement that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “lost the anti-doping battle” before August’s Olympics began.

The iNADO remarked the IOC can redeem itself in time for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games. The International Olympic Committee resisted calls for a blanket ban on Russians competing in the Rio Games because of the doping record of the country. The IOC however decided to leave decision on participation of individual athletes with their sports federations. The International Paralympic Committee (IPC), on the other hand, issued a blanket ban on Russian athletes.

In a statement, iNADO said the International Olympic Committee had ignored its “own calls for harmony and independence” as well as recommendation of the World Anti-Doping Agency of a complete ban on Russians from the Olympics. A three-person IOC panel ratified the individual governing bodies’ decisions on who was eligible and more than 270 Russians were cleared to compete at the Rio Olympics. The iNADO went on to compare Russians competing in Rio to the disqualification of Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson for doping at Seoul in 1988 after breaking the 100m world record in the final. It remarked this year’s Games will be remembered for the participation of athletes served by a Russian system that corrupted clean sport just as the 1988 Seoul Olympics are remembered for Ben Johnson’s infamy. The iNADO added in the statement that the IOC, equally disappointing in the eyes of many, chose to associate itself with such a system by failing to reject it categorically.

Joseph de Pencier, chief executive of the global Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations, said the IOC must ensure that the reception of Russian athletes in Pyeongchang is very different than the one in Rio.

The 59-member global Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations said the IOC could redeem itself before the 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The group said a starting point will be to recognize the findings of the McLaren report, the WADA-commissioned investigation which revealed the state-sponsored doping, were well-documented and reliable. It also said the IOC members should cease attacks on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that commissioned the report.

The global Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations said the task of convincing Russia, its athletes and the country’s sporting leaders of the cultural change needed was “enormous”. It further added anti-doping is not “political” and said it is at the heart of true sport and further commented let the IOC help us hear Russian voices acknowledge that and see Russian decision-makers act on it.

The iNADO added whistleblowers should be encouraged and added the independence of WADA should be strengthened, with the agency given the investigative capacity it requires. It was also suggested by iNADO that Olympic sponsors and broadcasters should “contribute meaningfully” to anti-doping, if only to protect their own substantial investments. It was also suggested that governance in sporting organizations needed to be improved to restore confidence, with public oversight of operations and spending.

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Sunday 31, Jul 2016

  Russia Never Engaged In State-Backed Doping, Says New Russian Anti-Doping Chief

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Vitaly Smirnov, member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and chief of Russia’s newly-created doping watchdog, has rejected allegations of Russia having a doping program at the state level.

Smirnov also vowed to create a totally transparent anti-doping mechanism and remarked Russia is determined to achieve an absolutely transparent doping control system but expects the same from other countries as well. The chief of Russia’s newly-created doping watchdog said our task is to create an absolutely transparent system and we are ready to invite any experts but we expect the same system to be formed everywhere. Smirnov also commented that Russian anti-doping policies should be handed over to the Health Ministry and it would not ask the government for money, in order to ensure its independence. Smirnov also said we are counting on the necessary and modest subsidies from the Olympic committee.

The new Russian anti-doping commission head previously served as the minister of sport of the Russian Federation from 1981 to 1990 and was a full member of the IOC from 1971 to 2015.

Smirnov went on to remark he would meet Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren (at the Rio Games) who recently submitted report that the Russian Sports Ministry actively participated in swapping samples at its laboratories in Moscow and Sochi. In the McLaren report, it was also claimed that Federal Security Service (FSB) of Russia was involved in the alleged doping and cover-up scheme.

Russian Olympic Committee President Aleksandr Zhukov announced the creation of a public anti-doping commission headed by Smirnov the day the International Olympic Committee decided to allow Russian athletes to compete at the Rio Games and left the decision to ban Russian athletes to individual federations. While creating the commission, Zhukov welcomed the IOC’s decision not to impose a blanket ban forbidding all of Russia’s athletes from competing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. The Russian Olympic Committee President commented the IOC decision was rather a balanced decision and said the Executive Board of International Olympic Committee decided that clean Russian athletes should be allowed to compete in the Olympic Games but added a number of steps must be queued out and a number of requirements must be met.

Zhukov also said these are at the same time very serious requirements and conditions regarding athletes from Russia. The ROC President said athletes from other countries with a doping record have not been banned from the Olympics, while Russian athletes with previous records have been effectively banned from the Games.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said we believe that the IOC decision is a positive decision, and we regard it positively. The spokesman added we definitely welcome the ultimate solution, which allows so-called ‘clean’ athletes to take part in the Olympics after an endorsement from international federations.

Russian Vladimir Putin called for the introduction of unified international standards for doping controls. Putin added Russia must show that it is fully committed to a clean and honest fight and that it is ready for a real partnership with the sporting world in its opposition to the use of doping.

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Thursday 23, Jun 2016

  Olympic Hopes Not Dead, Says Yelena Isinbayeva

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Two-time Olympic gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva has remarked she will not compete under the International Olympic Committee flag if athletes from Russia are banned from the 2016 Rio Games.

The Russian pole vaulter said the fact that ‘clean’ Russian track-and-field athletes have received the opportunity to take part in the 2016 Olympics under the flag of Russia if granted access by the world governing body of athletics is a victory for Russian sports. The athlete said on Match TV television on June 22 that the hope is still not dead yet and Russian athletes should fight for the right to participate in the Olympics in Rio and file lawsuits. Isinbayeva added she will have the right to participate if her lawsuit is granted and added that the most pleasant thing for her was that all athletes whose lawsuits will be granted will participate under the Russian flag.

Isinbayeva, who won Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008, said there have been suggestions that she should compete under the IOC flag but remarked this does not seem like a real possibility. The triple outdoor world champion said she backs the fight against drug cheats but remarked clean athletes should not suffer as a result. The 34-year-old said she totally understands that the IAAF needs to take strong action to eradicate doping but remarked she does not think it is fair to forbid her and other clean Russian athletes to compete – athletes who have repeatedly proved they are innocent of cheating.

The Russian said she has never failed a doping test – be it in London, China, the United States or any of the European countries where she vaulted over the course of nearly 20 years of competition, including throughout her four Olympic cycles. In an open letter published by the New York Times, Isinbayeva said she has devoted her life to her sport since coming out of retirement after the birth of her daughter two years ago and had sacrificed countless hours pushing her body for the chance to compete one last time at the Olympics. Yelena Isinbayeva added in the letter that her coach suffered a stroke, but even from his hospital bed he wrote training plans for her, never giving up his hope that she would win her third gold medal in Rio. Yelena added instead of focusing on that goal – which would further secure her place in sporting history – she has been struggling with the uncertainty of whether she can even compete in Brazil and added it has been a physically exhausting and emotionally draining time.

A special session has been called upon by the International Olympic Committee on the issue of participation by Russian athletes in the Rio Olympics. The cases as a result involving the Russian track-and-field athletes’ participation in the Games will be reviewed individually. This would mean athletes who are permitted to participate by the athletics’ governing body and qualify for the Olympics can take part in the competitions under the Russian flag.

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Tuesday 19, Jan 2016

  Former Russian Athletics Chief Fears Prosecution

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Former Russian athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichev said he fears “real danger” that he could possibly face criminal charges over a bribery and doping scandal for which he denied responsibility.

The IAAF ethics commission recently banned Balakhnichev, who also served as treasurer of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) from 2011 to 2014, for life after it was alleged that he took bribes for covering up doping by Russian athletes.

Balakhnichev said he had done everything he could possibly have done to prevent cheating by Russian track and field athletes. The ex-Russian athletics chief also defended his actions as President of the Russian athletics federation (ARAF) from 1991 to 2015. Balakhnichev went on to comment that he could not have held the athletes by the hand. Presently, Balakhnichev is under investigation from French financial prosecutors who are probing evidence passed on to them by the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency and its chairman Dick Pound.

The former ARAF chief said he could be targeted by an international warrant. Balakhnichev remarked if things are going to keep being this way – with the documents Pound allegedly transmitted to the French authorities – then, of course, there is a real danger that this can be used against him and also remarked he is afraid but he does not see anything that could attract their interest.

Balakhnichev was accused by the World Anti-Doping Agency of having facilitated fraud and corruption within the world governing body of athletics, the IAAF. He however maintains that WADA does not have sufficient evidence to prove any of the graft allegations levied against him. Balakhnichev was among the former IAAF officials who got entangled in a corruption scandal that made Interpol issued a wanted notice for Papa Massata Diack, the son of former IAAF president, Lamine Diack and a ex-marketing consultant for the athletics’ governing body. Papa Massata faces corruption and money laundering charges in France.

Recently, the Russian athletics federation selected Dmitry Shlyakhtin in an attempt to have the ban on its team lifted before the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Shlyakhtin was unanimously elected by senior sports officials to wash away allegations of widespread doping. Shlyakhtin, a former rugby and athletics coach, will head an “anti-crisis team” to implement reform and remarked his task is simple and to return Russian athletics to an international level and restore the trust of the world governing body of athletics and WADA.

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko commented that possible Russian Olympic contenders would be tested by British anti-doping specialists three times a month in the lead-up to the Rio Games. Mutko added there are no problems with us returning because the majority of our athletes are conscientious. The sports minister also commented that our athletes are on international anti-doping registers, and to accuse us of hiding our competitors from testing is baseless.

The IAAF said in a statement that the weakness of IAAF’s governance, which has been exposed, allowed individuals at the head of the previous regime at the IAAF to delay the following of normal procedures in certain doping case.

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