Russian doping: Athletics president Balakhnichev resigns

Valentin Balakhnichev
Balakhnichev came third in the 110 metres hurdles at his country's 1969 national championships

The president of the Russian athletics federation has quit after the latest doping scandals to hit the country.

Valentin Balakhnichev's decision comes a month after five walkers, including three Olympic champions were banned and coach Valentin Maslakov resigned.

Vice-president Vadim Zelichenok will take charge until elections are held within six months of the 2016 Olympics.

"The president takes responsibility so I decided to resign," said Balakhnichev after 25 years in the role.

In December a German TV documentary alleged 99% of Russian athletes were guilty of doping.

The documentary, shown by TV channel Das Erste, also implicated the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in covering up the abuse.

On Monday, Lamine Diack, president of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), told the BBC athletics faced "a difficult crisis" but promised to "put it behind us by cleaning all this".

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He also admitted he was "shocked" and "disturbed" when he first heard the claims.

The 81-year-old Senegalese official, who is standing down as IAAF president in August after 16 years, insisted the allegations by Das Erste were "a joke" and "ridiculous".

"I cannot accept that somebody came and said in Russia it's 99% cheating. It's not true," he said.

"I understand after this kind of crisis people are saying 'OK, what are they doing, is it right or not?', but I think we have to be absolutely clear that our athletes are 90% to 95% clean."

Of 37 athletes sanctioned under the IAAF's biological passport programme since 2009, 23 are Russian.

The BBC has not independently verified the German documentary's allegations and is awaiting responses from the athletes targeted in the programme, whom it approached when it was first broadcast. The Russian authorities have dismissed the allegations as a "pack of lies".

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