Russia faces more cover-up accusations

LONDON • Russia faced more pressure yesterday to clean up its act, after an independent investigator appointed by the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) said that the Russian government covered up positive drug tests at the 2013 World Athletics Championships in Moscow.

But, instead of dealing with the doping issue, the country's Investigative Committee announced that it has begun criminal proceedings against the former head of Russia's anti-doping laboratory, who alleged that the government and security service were involved in cover-ups.

On Friday, hours after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) voted unanimously to uphold the ban on the doping-tainted Russian federation, Professor Richard McLaren, in a statement, said the Russian Ministry of Sport was involved in instructing a Moscow anti-doping laboratory to "not report positive sample results" from testing carried out at the 2013 IAAF Championships.

Wada added that government interference had started as early as 2011.

"I have the evidence to confirm... that the Ministry of Sport was involved in instructing the laboratory to not report positive sample results over the period before, during and after the IAAF Championships in 2013," McLaren said. "My investigation is ongoing. I will continue my work with the objective of releasing my findings in mid-July."

EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF

Responsibility must always be individual and those who have no connection with these violations should not suffer.

VLADIMIR PUTIN, Russia's President, on the IAAF's decision to maintain Russia's suspension in track and field.

Wada said McLaren's preliminary findings showed there had been "mandatory state-directed manipulation of laboratory analytical results operating within the Moscow-accredited laboratory from at least 2011, including the period of the IAAF World Championships in 2013".

On Friday, Russia's President Vladimir Putin condemned as "unfair" the IAAF decision to extend a ban on the Russian athletics federation, saying he hoped a solution could be found to allow "clean" athletes to compete in the Olympics.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia was ready to take legal steps to prevent its athletes being banned en masse.

"Responsibility must always be individual and those who have no connection with these violations should not suffer," said Putin. "We ourselves are outraged when we're faced with doping problems, and we work to ensure that those guilty are punished."

Yesterday, Russia's powerful Investigative Committee said it had started a criminal case against Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of Moscow's anti-doping laboratory, for "abuse of power".

Rodchenkov, who has fled to the United States, last month revealed an elaborate doping cover-up at the 2014 Sochi Olympics that involved at least 15 medallists with the close involvement of Russia's sports ministry and the state's FSB security service.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 19, 2016, with the headline 'Russia faces more cover-up accusations'. Print Edition | Subscribe