The man in charge of Australian athletics has called for Russia to be banned from the 2016 Olympics in the wake of a damning World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report.
The report outlined evidence of systematic government-backed cheating, noting that drug tests for athletes were conducted at a Russian lab which totally lacked credibility.
WADA’s commission also called for five Russian athletes — including 800m Olympic winner Mariya Savinova — to be given lifetime bans, suggesting the presence of doped athletes had “sabotaged” the 2012 Games in London.
The report has given Australia’s Jared Tallent renewed hope of claiming the 2012 Olympic gold medal after finishing second behind Russian Sergey Kirdyapkin in the 50m race walk.
Athletics Australia chief executive Phil Jones this morning called for Russia’s athletics federation to be banned from next year’s Games in Rio, saying there was not enough time for the country to prove it was clean.
“The runway clearly is very short to address all the issues that the report calls out,” he told Radio National’s Breakfast program.
“I think given the time between now and the Rio Olympics, it’s very difficult to see that their house is going to be demonstrably in order by the middle of next year.”
Jones said he was never 100 per cent sure doping was taking place in Russia, but he was not surprised.
“Obviously there has always been huge suspicion. I don’t think it’s surprising in any way. I don’t think it’s surprising the report has found systemic doping in the Russian Federation in the walking program.
“It’s difficult to imagine Russia is the only country where there would be anti-doping issues. It would be very surprising if Russia was an island in this regard.”
And he said athletes would have to work hard to convince the general public it was a clean sport.
“I think many people were suspicious before and I think they’ll be suspicious now. It is a long road back but the sport can rise above this and will.
“But clearly there will have been a lot of damage done by these allegations and the fallout as we move forward and clean the sport up.”
He said most Australian athletes would feel frustrated by the report.
“We’ve got a lot of very good, clean athletes and for them to be tarnished and uncertainty created, is really an unfair situation for athletes to be in and they would rightly feel that the sport needs to get on the front foot and sort this out.”
Doping samples destroyed in Moscow
Chairman of the commission of the report into doping in athletics, Dick Pound, told reporters how alarmed he was by the findings.
“It’s worse than we thought, it has the effect of factually affecting the results on the field of play,” Mr Pound said.
“And athletes, both in Russia and abroad, are suffering as a result.
“It may be a residue of the old Soviet system … they must stop it and make a new start.
“As the investigation went on we discovered information that not only related to sport corruption in the general sense of it, but also to possible criminal actions as well.”
The report found that Russian anti-doping testing laboratory director Grigory Rodchenko “personally ordered and authorised” 1,417 doping control samples be destroyed three days before WADA arrived in Moscow last December.