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International track federation staggered by new round of allegations

International track federation staggered by new round of allegations
"Athletics must be a sport that athletes, fans, sponsors, media and parents alike know is safe to compete in," International Assn. of Athletics Federations President Sebastian Coe, shown in 2015, has said. (Sajjad Hussain / AFP/Getty Images)

Only a week ago, international track officials issued a "road map" for restoring their sport, which has been battered by allegations of corruption and widespread doping.

It will be a long, tough journey.

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A report this week suggests that International Assn. of Athletics Federations officials knew about systemic cheating in Russia as early as six years ago, but failed to take decisive action and even discussed trying to hide the problem.

The discovery came about with new blood testing instituted in 2009, according to emails, letters and reports the Associated Press received from a person involved with the IAAF's anti-doping program.

"Not only are these athletes cheating their fellow competitors but at these levels are putting their health and even their own lives in very serious danger," Pierre Weiss, then-IAAF general secretary, reportedly wrote to a Russian sports official in 2009.

Weiss reportedly stated that Russians had "recorded some of the highest values ever seen since the IAAF started testing."

The new information calls into question comments by federation officials who expressed surprise at a recent World Anti-Doping Agency report that alleged systemic cheating in Russia.

Earlier, some IAAF officials had reportedly discussed penalizing top-ranked Russian athletes while trying to deal with second-tier competitors in a quiet manner that would avoid public notice.

The IAAF says this plan was never carried out.

Last year, former IAAF President Lamine Diack was hit with bribery allegations. The current president, Sebastian Coe, said last week: "Athletics must be a sport that athletes, fans, sponsors, media and parents alike know is safe to compete in on a level playing field and one in which clean effort is rewarded and celebrated."

The World Anti-Doping Agency is scheduled to release the second part of its report on Russian athletics later this week.

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