Former world champion Dai Greene has raised fears the Russian doping scandal which emerged on Wednesday could be swept under the carpet unless radical steps are taken by global athletics chiefs to tackle the problem.
It has been alleged that a systematic doping programme is in place in Russia, with one athlete claiming that up to 99 per cent of the Russian Olympic team were cheating. Currently, 67 Russian athletes are serving International Association of Athletics Federations bans for a litany of doping offences.
Following the claims in a documentary on the German television channel ZDF/ARD, Greene, who won 400m hurdles gold at the 2011 World Championships, highlighted concerns that more scandals could yet rock the sport.
“There must be more clarity in the way that things are run,” said the Welsh athlete, who has long been outspoken against drug cheats in sport. “We need to look at how testing in organisations is done so we don’t have countries maybe like Russia sweeping it under the carpet. We’ve been in this territory before with athletics. But it seems these things build up then die away. There’s enough going on. This has to be dealt with.”
He even went so far as to urge nations to boycott events in protest, and said: “An individual athlete can’t boycott a race or a major championship as a protest, but if more athletes and other nations got together, it would be strength in numbers.”
British middle-distance runner Hannah England has seen a number of her Russian rivals banned for doping and believes “serious repercussions” are required, posing the question: “I don’t know if you can ban a whole country from a major championships.”
Asked in the documentary how many members of the Russian Olympic team used doping, the former discus thrower Evgenia Pecherina said: “Most of them, the majority, 99 per cent. And you can get absolutely everything the athlete wants.”
Former Russian 800m runner Yuliya Stepanova said she was encouraged to keep clean samples of urine in her freezer for testing, while her husband Vitaliy Stepanov added: “You have to dope in Russia, that’s how it works.”
It is also claimed that failed tests were covered up; marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova said she paid her federation £300,000 to allow her to compete at London 2012 following abnormal blood readings.
But Valentin Balakhichev, president of the Russian Athletics Federation, dismissed the documentary. “I can say that they are a pack of lies and it is an unfair account,” he said. Nikita Kamaev, managing director of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency, added: “They do not have the facts or documents which support any offences carried out against the anti-doping principles.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency president, Craig Reedie, said that the matter had been handed to the IAAF’s ethics commission to investigate.
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