Russia's prospects in the upcoming 2016 Olympics in Brazil could be badly affected by a doping scandal that was allegedly sponsored by senior sports officials from the country. According to CNN, an independent inquiry conducted by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) under the leadership of former WADA chief Dick Pound has managed to unearth evidence of a widespread state-sponsored doping program. The report alleges that Russia has a "deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels" within Russian athletics.
In a news conference announcing the findings of his inquiry, Pound revealed that since senior Russian officials turned a blind eye to instances of widespread doping, their action could be construed as being supportive of state-sponsored doping. During the inquiry, Pound also found that more than 1,400 samples from Russian athletes were " intentionally and maliciously" destroyed by officials in a Moscow laboratory, even after the WADA had asked them to preserve them for independent analysis.
Russia had won 24 gold medals in the 2012 London Olympics, and it is now believed that those medals were earned by athletes who should not have been part of the competition. WADA has also come down hard on the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) -- the sport's governing body -- for being lax with Russia and has recommended the names of ten individuals that include five athletes and five coaches to be banned for life for doping. This list also includes Mariya Savinova and Ekaterina Poistogova gold and bronze medallists, respectively, at the 800m championship at the 2012 London Olympics.
While WADA does not have the right to suspend Russia and prevent its athletes from participating at the 2016 Olympics, it is planning to recommend the suspension of the country's track and field team to the IOC. They have also reached out to the Interpol in order to investigate the widespread doping scandal.
At the press conference, Pound said the following.
"For the 2016 Olympics our recommendation is that the Russian Federation is suspended. One of our hopes is that they will volunteer that so they can undertake the remedial work needed. If they don't, then it has to play itself out and the outcome may be there are no Russian track and field athletes in Rio. I hope they recognize it is time to change and make those changes."However, Pound was open towards the idea of Russia taking remedial steps and added that there is no intention to exclude people from the Olympics provided the athletes undergo therapy and are free of doping by the time they are ready for the 2016 Olympics.
"If they do the surgery and do the therapy I hope they can get there (Rio). The idea is not to exclude people from the Olympics," he added.
Meanwhile, the IAAF has released a statement in which its president Seb Coe has asked for an approval from the organizations' council members to issue sanctions against Russia.
"We need time to properly digest and understand the detailed findings included in the report. However, I have urged the Council to start the process of considering sanctions against All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF).This step has not been taken lightly. Our athletes, partners and fans have my total assurance that where there are failures in our governance or our anti-doping programs we will fix them."Seb Coe also added that the IAAF would co-operate with investigators and "do whatever it takes" to protect clean athletes and rebuild the lost trust.
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