COLORADO SPRINGS • If Russia could build Sochi in seven years to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, they can fix their doping problems in nine months and compete at next year's Rio Olympics, according to former World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) chief Dick Pound.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banned Russia from the sport last week after a stunning report by a Wada independent commission, led by Pound, had detailed alleged unprecedented doping offences.
But, despite the damning evidence and calls to have Russian athletes barred from the track and field competition in Rio, Pound on Tuesday made it clear there was a road back to next year's Summer Games for Russia if officials there made the necessary changes.
After spending US$51 billion (S$72.7 million) and moving mountains to transform Sochi into a glittering Olympic venue for last year's Winter Games, Russia is capable, according to Pound, of tearing down and rebuilding the country's corrupt anti-doping programme in a straightforward manner.
"Russia built Sochi in seven years so this is child's play," said Pound, after briefing the Wada executive committee on his commission's findings and recommendations. "All you need is some direction from the political authorities and say, "look, Rusada (Russia Anti-Doping Agency) is independent and the lab is independent and anybody who doesn't make that happen is in trouble'.
"The same with coaches, you say, 'folks, the old Soviet system is over, we're not going to do that any more and if that is your method of coaching don't let the door hit you in the butt on the way out'."
The IAAF has announced a five-person inspection team which will monitor the clean-up process in Russia.
Norwegian anti-doping expert Rune Andersen, who is heading the probe, said he did not rule out the chance of Russia putting its house in order in time for its athletes to compete in the Aug 5-21 Rio Games.
Yesterday, Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the government would continue to harshly punish sportsmen for doping and that the country was capable of solving the problem itself.
His comments were preceded by Russian athletes accused of doping by Wada announcing that they will file a lawsuit against fellow athlete Liliya Shobukhova and her husband, Russian sports agent Andrey Baranov, who have become the whistle-blowers on doping in Russian athletics.