Call for Russia to be banned from Olympics

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Call for Russia to be banned from Olympics

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Leaders of the world anti-doping movement have called for Russian track athletes to be banned from next year’s Olympics, saying Monday that the nine-month window between now and the Games isn’t enough to ensure the program and its athletes are clean.

The Institute of National Anti-Doping Organizations (iNADO) will send its decision to the World Anti-Doping Agency, which is holding its annual meetings this week in Colorado Springs.

The iNADO leaders are responding to last week’s report by an independent commission that detailed corruption and rule-breaking inside the Russian track team and the country’s anti-doping system.

The sport’s governing body, IAAF, has provisionally suspended the track team.

While the Russian and International Olympic Committees negotiate the country’s return, iNADO leaders, who represent 16 countries, said the Russian track team hasn’t demonstrated it can send a clean team to the Olympics.

“We’re not convinced there’s enough time between now and then for them to clean up their act,” David Kenworthy, the chair of iNADO and the UK Anti-Doping in Britain, said.

As part of its declaration, iNADO also wants WADA to devote at least as much money to compliance as it does to research - something that falls in line with what the independent-commission report recommended. The WADA budget comes in at around $26 million a year, funded equally by the International Olympic Committee and governments around the world.

Currently, WADA gets the bulk of its information about the efficiency of a country’s anti-doping program from questionnaires filled out by policymakers in the countries themselves.

“We’d like to allow WADA to have the ability to robustly examine countries, rather than rely on self-reporting,” Kenworthy said.

Over the weekend, IOC president Thomas Bach and the head of the Russian Olympic Committee, Alexander Zhukov, reached agreement on a roadmap for Russia to become compliant with rules of the IAAF and WADA. No time frame was set. Bach said all the implicated coaches, doctors and athletes would have to serve their sanctions, and a top-to-bottom reform of Russia’s track and field program would have to take place.

The iNADO leaders have no confidence all that can happen before Aug. 12, 2016 - the day track and field starts at the Rio Olympics.

“If they can achieve that by 2016, great,” Kenworthy said. “But we just feel they can’t, because of the damage that’s been done to both their systems and to their credibility. If you’ve got to start from scratch, it takes years. It’s not something that just takes six months.”

WADA has already declared Russia’s anti-doping laboratory out of compliance. On Wednesday, WADA’s Foundation Board is expected to suspend the Russian anti-doping agency. WADA doesn’t have direct say in the eligibility of Russia’s track team. That falls under the jurisdiction of track’s governing body, the IAAF, which itself is being investigated by the independent commission.

Kenworthy said it’s important to get the anti-doping process back up and running in Russia immediately, “whether on a caretaker or permanent basis.”

The iNADO members said their agencies would be available to help Russia. “What you can’t do there is just leave a vacuum,” he said. AP
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