Russian anti-doping CEO predicts tough penalties

By A.P: Wednesday, October 9th 2019 at 01:00 GMT +3 | Athletics
Russian National Anti-doping Agency (RUSADA) head Yuri Ganus leaves the office in Moscow [Courtesy]

The CEO of Russia’s anti-doping agency expects “significant restrictions” on the whole of Russian sport over alleged data tampering.

Russia’s Sports Ministry has until today to explain to the World Anti-Doping Agency why data it handed over appears to have been doctored, with some key evidence selectively deleted.

If WADA rules it’s yet another Russian doping cover-up — of data which was supposedly secure in the Russian state’s custody — new rules could mean tougher sanctions than ever before.

“What decision will WADA make? It will be strict. This is an issue of recidivism, a repeat, and it’s about using the same methods again,” Yuri Ganus, CEO of the Russian anti-doping agency, told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

“It’s actually a big problem, and obviously it’s to be expected. If the (Russian) sports authorities can’t find some answers, and I struggle to imagine what those answers could be, I can envision that the decision will be fairly strict.”

The data handover in January in a sealed-off section of the Moscow lab was meant to clear up years of doping cases. Russia’s anti-doping agency, known as RUSADA, was reinstated in return, against protests from some Western athletes.

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Tampering would be a breach of trust and could taint the entire data archive so that it’s hard to prosecute cases even for athletes whose files appear untouched.

If WADA decides foul play was involved, its first step will likely be to re-suspend RUSADA.

“There will be significant restrictions on athletes, restrictions on the whole sports jurisdiction, on hosting competitions on Russian territory, and the role of officials in sports administration,” Ganus said. “The worst thing is that it’s now in its fifth year and it will continue for quite some time.”

Possible further sanctions range from monitoring programs to a ban on hosting international sports events or even exclusion from the Olympics. However, that could run into resistance from the International Olympic Committee, which has signaled its reluctance to repeat its punishment of Russia at the 2018 Winter Olympics. On that occasion, Russia was officially banned but allowed to send a smaller, officially neutral squad.

WADA’s new powers are based on a code of rules passed last year.

Ganus is keen to stress that his agency couldn’t have tampered with it. [AP]

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