Thursday, 14 January 2016

IAAF Curioser and Curioser for Coe

The second part of the Wada report into doping in Russia and attempted cover-ups at the IAAF will conclude that there was no way members of the world athletics governing body’s council, which included the current president Sebastian Coe, could have been unaware of the extent of doping and non-enforcement of the rules in track and field, according to the Associated Press.

AP says details of the 89-page investigation, to be released by the World Anti-Doping Agency on Thursday, were provided to the news agency early by a person who had reviewed it. The person did not want to be identified because the report had not been publicly released.

The report also says that the leader of track’s governing body, Lamine Diack, told a lawyer he would need to cut a deal with the Russian president Vladimir Putin to ensure nine Russian athletes accused of doping would not compete at the 2013 world championships in Moscow, according to AP.

The report, written by Wada’s first president, Dick Pound, says the International Association of Athletics Federations must restructure to ensure corruption cannot go unchecked. The corruption “cannot be blamed on a small number of miscreants”, Pound wrote.

“The corruption was embedded in the organisation,” the report says. “It cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on his own.”

Coe was accused by a parliamentary committee of a “lack of curiosity” and failing to ask enough questions during his eight years as vice-president. Asked whether the IAAF was institutionally corrupt, Coe insisted it was not and said allegations had been made against only a “handful” of employees.

The Wada report comes a day after the AP released details from six years of IAAF internal emails, reports and notes showing a high level of communication between the athletics federation and Russian officials about suspicious test results from the nation’s athletes, including plans to cover up some doping evidence.

In addition to the deal-making friendship forged between Putin and then IAAF president Diack, the report details a sudden increase from $6m to $25m (£17.4m) for Russian rights to televise the 2013 worlds provided by a Russian bank, and also tells of a lawyer who was handpicked by Diack to handle Russian cases even though he had little experience with anti-doping measures.

Pound details meetings between Diack and IAAF lawyer Huw Roberts, who delivered details of the nine Russian doping cases directly to Diack and asked how he planned to resolve them.

With no resolution coming, Diack explained to Roberts “he was in a difficult position that could only be resolved by President Putin of Russia with whom he had struck up a friendship,” the report said.

Eventually, the report says, none of the nine athletes competed in Moscow, but their cases were not further pursued by the IAAF. Those delays led to Roberts’ resignation in January 2014. By then, according to the report’s details, Roberts had virtually no control over cases involving Russians.

A separate report, by the IAAF independent ethics commission this month, said that Roberts had threatened to resign three times over the issue of Russian athletes with suspect blood values not being sanctioned since he learned of the problem in late 2012. After repeatedly confronting Lamine Diack, Roberts tendered his resignation at the end of 2013 and eventually resigned in April 2014 before returning under Coe.

In November 2011, Diack turned over responsibility for Russian cases involving biological passport blood tests to his personal lawyer, Habib Cissé.

Cissé is under investigation in France for corruption. Diack’s son, Papa Massata Diack, has been banned from track for life. Papa Massata and another of Diack’s sons, Khalil, both had IAAF jobs outside the official framework of the federation that set them up to execute all the fraud, the report said.

The report details a 2012 meeting at a Moscow hotel involving a Russian TV adviser, Papa Massata Diack, Cissé and the Russian athletics federation head Valentin Balakhnichev, who was also honorary treasurer of the IAAF. The meeting was set to resolve a “problem” with the $6m price tag for the Russian TV rights to the following year’s world championships.

After the meeting, Papa Massata Diack had an arrangement with a leading Russian bank worth $25m.

Pound called for the IAAF to undertake forensic examination of how the TV rights were awarded to determine if there were any improprieties.

This was the second of two reports from Pound. His previous report, released in November, detailed corruption in Russia. Since then, the country’s track team has been suspended, along with its anti-doping agency and the Moscow anti-doping lab.

Together the report and other recent revelations indicate that many officials inside the IAAF, which announced the ban of Russian athletes in November, were aware of the growing Russian doping problem for years before taking action against the nation, and some may have been actively covering up Russian wrongdoing.

On the back of the ethics commission report, the IAAF banned Papa Massata Diack, Balakhnichev, and Alexei Melnikov, the former head coach of Russia’s race-walking and long-distance running programmes, for life.

Lamine Diack is on bail in France and the prosecutor said Papa Massata Diack, believed to be in Senegal, would be arrested if he set foot in France.

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