All Russian athletes could be barred from Rio Olympics

The Olympic flag (left) and the Russian flag during the closing ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.
The Olympic flag (left) and the Russian flag during the closing ceremony of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • Dick Pound, the founding president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada), has said that it is "not impossible" that the entire Russia team could be banished from August's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Russia's athletics team are barred from competing in Brazil by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), a decision confirmed on Saturday by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Pound's fears for the rest of the Russia team are based on the potential outcome of a Wada investigation being carried out by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren following allegations of widespread corruption at the Sochi Winter Olympics two years ago.

McLaren is due to deliver his report by July 15 and, having asked Wada to investigate what happened at Sochi, the IOC will then be expected to take appropriate action.

"Kicking the Russia team out of the Rio Games would be the nuclear option," Pound said, "but it's not impossible.

"This investigation into Sochi has come about because of allegations made by Grigory Rodchenkov, the former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, and he was high enough up in the Russian system to know what was going on."

Rodchenkov claims he has proof of Russia's wrongdoing and, in an interim report to the IAAF, McLaren stated he has proof of the Russian Ministry of Sport's involvement in doping.

Travis Tygart, the head of the United States Anti-Doping Agency, believes there can be only one outcome if McLaren's report upholds Rodchenkov's allegations.

"If it is shown that the state corrupted the anti-doping system, the only right outcome is for Russia to be removed from the Rio Olympics," he said.

Meanwhile, Sebastian Coe, the IAAF chief, has insisted he did not discuss allegations of corruption at the IAAF with the former 10,000m world record-holder Dave Bedford before he was sent an e-mail detailing how money was extorted from the Russian marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova.

"No, there was absolutely no detailed conversation," Coe said on Saturday. "At the time, we were all operating on the basis that there were allegations about doping. And there is a very clear exchange of e-mails that were forwarded, and an e-mail back to me from ethics commission head Michael Beloff saying, 'Thank you very much.'"

The Briton insisted again that he never opened the attachment in Bedford's e-mail because he asked his personal assistant - who deals with all his e-mails - to pass it on to Beloff instead.

Coe also denied any wrongdoing over text messages from his campaign team to former IAAF marketing executive Papa Massata Diack - the son of former IAAF president Lamine Diack - who is now on the run from Interpol, before he was elected in August last year.

"I'm sorry but lots of people give advice, lots of people want to be probably on the winning side, and that advice comes in at all times and in all directions," said Coe. "Some of it is accepted and some of it is gently and kindly thanked for - and that is it in its entirety."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2016, with the headline 'All Russian athletes could be barred from Rio Olympics'. Print Edition | Subscribe