IAAF officials explored hush up of Russian Federation bans — APNewsBreak

The documents showed that Pierre Weiss, then the IAAF general secretary, indicated in exchanges with former Russian athletics president Valentin Balakhnichev, who has been banned from the sport for life, serious concerns over doping problems in Russia.

The IAAF insisted on Tuesday that the proposals were never put into practice, while Balakhnichev claimed they never reached him.

The IAAF documents reveal how its officials appealed for action from Russian Federation, but also used advances in blood testing against offenders.

As well as the European records review and a call to the IAAF and WADA to implement tougher penalties for doping offences, Hansen also gives details on other initiatives in his statement, including "I Run Clean" which saw athletes wear that statement on their bibs at the European Cross Country Championships in December, a governance compliance audit for European Athletics, anti-doping education and the assessment and monitoring of national anti-doping systems. Also banned for life were Balakhnichev and Alexei Melnikov, former head coach of Russia's race-walking and long-distance running programs.

By 2011, the IAAF's blood passport testing regime was flagging so many suspected Russian dopers that officials explored breaking their own rules and the WADA code by dealing with some cases privately, two internal IAAF notes show.

As part of a plan to combat doping in track and field, UK Athletics, the United Kingdom's athletics foundation, has proposed a far-reaching plan that would include wiping out all world records and initiating lifetime bans for any UK athlete caught doping.

The revelation that the IAAF was aware of the potential scale of Russian doping as far back as 2009 is another blow to the organization, the day before the publication of the World Anti-Doping Agency's second report from its investigation into alleged IAAF corruption and Russian doping. Well-known elite athletes likely to win medals in London would be disciplined "in strict conformity" with IAAF anti-doping rules.

Russian Federation proposed a "no start" policy where instead of handing bans to athletes, those with suspicious levels would not participate in competition. The IAAF later tells the AP this note was sent by Dolle to Habib Cisse, who was the legal counsel to IAAF President Lamine Diack. By late 2011, this detection method was starting to snare scores of Russian athletes, with 23 cases at various stages in the pipeline toward possible sanctions.

But this more lenient, hush-hush treatment wouldn't be extended to all athletes: only to those whose sudden disappearance from competition might slip by unnoticed, said the April 10, 2012, note. "Their withdrawal from competition wouldn't necessarily attract attention".

The IAAF told AP the letters were genuine.

Russian Federation is now trying to clean up its act amid fears that its track and field stars could be sidelined from this summer's Rio de Janeiro Games.

"We always said we had problems with Russia", Weiss told the AP.

- sponsors should withhold support of athletes caught doping. That prompted a World Anti-Doping Agency probe. Diack, who was replaced as the IAAF's president a year ago by Britain's Sebastian Coe, has since been arrested as part of a French police investigation that alleges he was involved in an extortion plot in which money was accepted in exchange for covering up positive doping tests by Russian athletes. It found Russian government complicity in systematic, widespread cheating.

Coe said he still has the appetite to reform athletics despite criticism of his conduct as a vice-president, and his personal sponsorship with major athletics sponsor Nike, now severed.

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