Athletics: Key figures in the Russian doping scandal

Sportsmen train at a local stadium in the southern city of Stavropol, Russia, on Nov 10, 2015.
Sportsmen train at a local stadium in the southern city of Stavropol, Russia, on Nov 10, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

MOSCOW (AFP) - The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) will decide on Friday whether to readmit the Russian track and field federation ahead of the Aug 5-21 Rio Olympics.

Here are the key figures in the Russian doping scandal.

1. Vitaly and Yuliya Stepanova

In 2014, Yuliya and her husband Vitaly Stepanov, who had worked at the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada), appeared in a German television documentary, claiming widespread doping fraud in the Russian sports system.

 

The Stepanovas alleged that officials within the now-disgraced Russian athletics federation supplied banned substances in exchange for 5 per cent of an athlete's earnings.

Officials, they said, also worked closely with anti-doping officers to falsify or keep quiet tests.

Yuliya added that it was also common for Russian athletes training outside of Russia to avoid out-of-competition testing by using false names.

Following the startling revelations, which have since plunged the IAAF into its worst-ever crisis, Yuliya left Russia for Germany with her husband and then eight-month-old son.

They applied for political asylum in Canada last November.

2. Vitaly Mutko


Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko reacts in an interview in Moscow, Russia, on May 24, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

Described by Dick Pound as being "all over the map" in his comments on doping, Mr Mutko, 57, is the charismatic and often outspoken Sports Minister of a country hogging the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

Sometimes contrite and apologetic over doping allegations, he has proved himself to be adept at negotiating political circles.

Sports Minister since 2008, he also serves as president of the Russia Football Union.

A close ally of Russia President Vladimir Putin, Mr Mutko has batted away controversies big and small but Pound said "it was not possible" for Mutko not to be aware of the rot in the system "and if he was aware of it then he was complicit in it".

3. Sebastian Coe


IAAF president, Sebastian Coe, holds a press conference in Doha on May 5, 2016, on the eve of the Diamond League athletics meeting. PHOTO: AFP

The Briton took over as president of the IAAF in August 2015 from now-disgraced former head Lamine Diack. And it was not only Diack involved in corrupt practices that saw positive dope tests covered up in return for bribes.

Coe was handed the ultimate challenge in trying to turn around the faltering federation as it faced its worst-ever crisis.

British middle-distance great Coe, who won the 1,500m gold at both the 1980 and 1984 Olympics in Moscow and Los Angeles respectively, is seen by some as a potential saviour of athletics; by others as a cog in the machine tainted by Diack's previous rule.

The former British member of parliament has vowed to crack down on doping in the sport in a bid to win back fans disgusted by months of lurid headlines.

4. Dick Pound and Craig Reedie


Dick Pound (left) and Craig Reedie (right). PHOTOS: ST FILE, AFP

Influential anti-doping czar Dick Pound was one of the founders of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada). The Canadian lawyer famously compared Russian efforts to combat doping in athletics to changing deckchairs on the Titanic.

It was Pound's report in November on proof of a systemic doping programme that led to IAAF suspending Russia.

Reedie has taken over the mantle of Wada president and the Briton has instigated a thorough investigation into Russia.

5. Grigory Rodchenkov

The former head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, he now threatens to derail the country's efforts to compete in Rio.

Rodchenkov described an organised doping campaign including at least 15 medallists during the 2014 Sochi Games, with the close involvement of the sports ministry and the FSB security service - allegations Mr Mutko dismissed as "absurd".

Like fellow whistleblowers, the Stepanovas, Rodchenko has fled his native Russia, to the United States.