The independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has recommended that the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) be banned from the sport after widespread doping offences and systemic failures.
The commission’s report, published on Monday, “identified systemic failures within the IAAF and Russia” that prevent or diminish the possibility of an effective anti-doping program.
Such a ban, if adopted by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), would prevent Russian athletes taking part in any IAAF-sanctioned events such as the Olympic Games and world and European championships.
Commission chairman Dick Pound addressed the media from Geneva to present their findings over allegations made during German broadcaster ARD’s December 2014 documentary on doping in Russia.
“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,” Mr Pound said.
“That has been turned over to Interpol for investigation and review … there will be a decision by criminal authorities on whether there will be prosecutions and then we will be in a position to release the full report.”
President of athletics’ governing body, the IAAF, Sebastian Coe, has demanded Russia report back to him by the end of the week as their athletics future remains in question.
“I will seek an explanation for the allegations and the (International Association of Athletics Federations) council will then make a judgement,” Coe told journalists.
“My instinct remains to encourage engagement not isolation, but the extent of what’s being said, I need to seek (IAAF) council support to have them (the Russian Athletics Federation) report back by the end of the week.
“The commission’s report is alarming. We have received it only today and are still absorbing it.
“We will investigate and if we find failures in our governance we will act.”
The International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday it trusted the IAAF would “draw all the necessary conclusions and will take all the necessary measures”.
The commission called for lifetime bans to be given to five Russian athletes, including Olympic 800m champion Maria Savanova, and the stripping of accreditation for Moscow’s under-fire anti-doping laboratory.
The WADA report found that 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.
The announcement comes less than 300 days before the 2016 Summer Olympics are set to begin in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
“One of our hopes is [that Russia will volunteer to be suspended and] undertake the remedial work to allow Russian athletes to compete under a new framework,” Mr Pound said.
“If they don’t, and this plays out, the outcome may be that there are no Russian track and field athletes in Rio. I hope they recognise it’s time to change and make those changes.”
Mr Pound said the widespread doping “could not have happened” without the awareness and consent of the Moscow government.
The global police body Interpol said that it would be coordinating a global investigation into the suspected corruption and doping.
Russian athletics chief Vadim Zelichenok however responded that WADA had no right to suspend the federation.
“It is only a recommendation,” he said, adding that only the IAAF has the power to make the final decision.
However Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko said that if either the IAAF or WADA make any recommendations on the basis of the report, “we will certainly fulfil them”.