Athletics doping: Russia provisionally suspended by IAAF

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Message could not be stronger - Coe

Russia's athletics federation has been provisionally suspended from international competition - including the Olympic Games - for its alleged involvement in widespread doping.

The IAAF took action after the publication of an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report that alleged "state-sponsored doping".

Its council members voted 22-1 in favour of Russia being banned.

"This is a wake-up call for all of us," said IAAF president Lord Coe.

He told BBC Sport: "Our sport finds itself in a shameful situation.

"I am wholly focused on the changes that need to be made. I have openly conceded that we need to learn some very tough lessons.

"We need to look at ourselves, within our sport, and we will do that."

Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the suspension was "temporary" and the "problem is solvable".

The country's IAAF council member was not allowed to participate in Friday's vote.

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What are the implications?

As it stands, Russian athletes may not enter international competitions, including the World Athletic Series and Rio Olympics, which begin on 5 August next year.

Russia will also not be entitled to host the 2016 World Race Walking Cup in Cheboksary and the 2016 World Junior Championships in Kazan.

The IAAF says that unless the Russian Athletics Federation (Araf) voluntarily accepts a full suspension, it is entitled to proceed to a full hearing on whether the provisional suspension should be made full.

Former sprinter Frankie Fredericks, head of the IAAF athletes commission, added: "We are angry at the damage being caused to the reputation and credibility of athletics and are united alongside our president to not shy away from the major challenges that face our sport."

Paula Radcliffe
British marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe tweeted her reaction to Friday's decision

'Positive news' for clean athletes

The Wada commission, led by chairman Dick Pound, suggested Araf, Russia's anti-doping agency (Rusada) and the Russian Federation as a whole could not be considered anti-doping code-compliant, because of what it claimed was widespread cheating.

The report claimed to have evidence of "direct intimidation and interference by the Russian state with the Moscow laboratory operations", while Rusada gave athletes advance notice of tests, hid missed tests, bullied doping control officers and their families and took bribes to cover up missed tests, it said.

According to the commission's findings, London 2012 was "sabotaged" by "widespread inaction" against athletes with suspicious doping profiles.

In a statement on Friday, a Wada spokesperson said: "The decision is positive news for clean athletes worldwide."

Analysis: BBC athletics correspondent Mike Costello
"This feels like a moment when the cynicism of athletes and others inside the sport is shown to be justified and the sport's leaders are forced, finally, into a constructive response. The vote in favour of suspension was more emphatic than many had predicted and serves as a clear signal to Russia that the era of winning dirty is over. The Russian authorities say they are ready to change the culture of corruption and cover-up. Lord Coe's tenure will be judged on the effectiveness of his remedies. A defining day for him it was not. But at least the damage done in a grave week for the sport has created an urge to reform."

Will Russia boycott the Olympics in protest?

Mutko said on Thursday that Russia is "against a boycott" and "against political interference in sport", adding the country is a "dependable partner of the international Olympic movement".

Russian President Vladimir Putin also demanded co-operation with doping authorities, saying: "The battle must be open. A sporting contest is only interesting when it is honest."

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said he expected Russia to "co-operate to make progress" towards being compliant with Wada to ensure participation at Rio 2016.

What happens next?

  • The Wada report recommended doping bans for five athletes and five coaches, and the IOC has called for the IAAF to take disciplinary action against them. The IOC said it would take "all the necessary measures and sanctions with regard to the withdrawal and reallocation of medals". The athletes are yet to respond to the report's findings, and the allegations are unproven.
  • Interpol is co-ordinating a French-led global investigation into doping allegations in athletics.
  • Wada will release further details from its report later this year - there were redacted sections on the IAAF because of ongoing criminal investigations. Wada is also due to reveal its findings into separate widespread blood data doping claims published by the Sunday Times and ARD in August.
  • Lord Coe has said the IAAF's internal review will be "accelerated" after the governing body was described as being "inexplicably lax in following up suspicious blood (and other) profiles". The Wada report also claimed to have evidence of multiple rules breaches by IAAF officials.
  • Wada will be enhancing its whistle-blowing process "to encourage, and offer greater protection to, anonymous sources that may be willing to come forward with valuable information".

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