LONDON (AP) — Expressing dismay at new allegations involving Russia, the World Anti-Doping Agency said Monday there is still “much, much work” to be done for the country to clean up its drug-testing program as it seeks to gain reinstatement for its track and field athletes ahead of the Olympics in Brazil.
A documentary shown Sunday by German broadcaster ARD accused Russian coach Vladimir Mokhnev of continuing to train athletes while he serves an IAAF suspension and reported that another coach offered banned substances for sale.
The ARD documentary also alleged that the acting head of the Russian anti-doping agency had allowed an unidentified athlete to reschedule a supposedly no-notice drug test.
“WADA has viewed, and is dismayed by, the revelations,” the Montreal-based agency said. “WADA will verify these allegations and, in particular, seek confirmation as to when the evidence was collected.”
The Russian track and field federation said in a statement that it would investigate the allegations.
“We are open to serious strategic partnership with the IAAF and WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and we will not allow individual people to cast a shadow over Russian athletics,” the Russian federation said.
Russia was banned from international track and field by the IAAF in November after a WADA commission’s report detailed widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russian track and field and a cover-up of doping cases by Russia’s anti-doping agency and national laboratory.
The latest ARD allegations came a few days before the International Association of Athletics Federations reviews Russia’s anti-doping reform efforts.
The IAAF has also said its Russia taskforce will investigate the ARD allegations. The taskforce has been monitoring Russia as it promises to reform in order to be readmitted to world track and field. Taskforce head Rune Andersen received advance access to audio and video material gathered by ARD.
“At a time when trust in sport is wafer thin, these troubling assertions will do little to reinforce confidence in the Russian anti-doping system when clean athletes need it most,” WADA President Craig Reedie said. “The allegations suggest that there is still much, much work to be done in Russia, and that we will need the full and unwavering cooperation of the Russian authorities to reverse the damage.”
“Until this happens, clean athletes won’t be able to trust that there is a level playing field,” Reedie said.
Mokhnev denied he was suspended from coaching Monday in comments to Russian agency R-Sport. He also said he was not acting as a coach in undercover footage broadcast by ARD which appeared to show him directing training sessions. Instead, he said he was “consulting.”
The IAAF confirmed to The Associated Press following Mokhnev’s comments that he remained under a provisional suspension. During such a suspension, coaches are typically banned from working with athletes in any capacity.
Mokhnev’s suspension followed earlier accusations that he provided banned substances to athletes from the Russian national team. Mokhnev also denies those claims.
“When sports officials offer banned substances to athletes, deliberately provide advance notice of tests, or continue coaching when they have been banned from coaching, their actions only serve to undercut the globally-accepted system that we have spent years putting in place,” Reedie said. “These allegations will further disgust clean athletes around the world and reinforce in their minds that there is still much work to be done to repair the anti-doping system in Russia.”
WADA is working with Russia’s anti-doping agency, RUSADA, to help it become compliant with the global anti-doping code. Drug-testing in Russia is currently being overseen by the UK Anti-Doping agency.
Reedie said the next step is to install two international experts in Russia “to ensure that the anti-doping system is free of undue interference and is fully independent.”
“This will include the review of all current staff,” Reedie said. “In light of these latest allegations … it is imperative that the two experts begin their work at RUSADA immediately.”
“I will not hesitate to act swiftly to ensure that any breaches to the code are dealt with firmly and expeditiously,” he added.
Ellingworth reported from Moscow.
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