Athletics’ world governing body has sent a detailed response to WADA’s Independent Commission following publication of part one of its report in November
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has said it does not accept the suggestion in a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission report that there are “systemic failures within the IAAF … that prevent or diminish the possibility of an effective anti-doping program”.
The sport’s world governing body also denied “systemic corruption” in its 30-page response to the first part of the WADA Independent Commission report, which was published in November. The second part of the report is due to be published on Thursday (January 14).
The response, which is said to have been sent to WADA’s Independent Commission on Friday (January 8), was received by AW today and highlights the suggestion in the Independent Commission report that “particular highly placed members and officials of IAAF” may have taken bribes to delay the bringing of anti-doping charges against certain athletes in 2012.
Describing the allegations of corruption by individuals formerly associated with the IAAF as “truly abhorrent”, the IAAF response goes on to state that “It will do everything in its power to punish the wrongdoers and to reform its own systems to make sure that no one can ever again interfere improperly with its anti-doping procedures”.
The findings detailed in the first part of the Independent Commission report included a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russian athletics. The Independent Commission, which is chaired by WADA’s founding president Dick Pound, had been formed after the broadcast of an ARD documentary – ‘Top-secret doping: How Russia makes its winners’ – in December 2014.
The All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) was fully suspended as an IAAF Member later in November.
Last week saw the IAAF Ethics Commission announce life bans for three senior officials – former marketing consultant to the IAAF Papa Massata Diack, former president of the ARAF Valentin Balakhnichev and former senior ARAF coach for long-distance walkers and runners Alexei Melnikov – plus a five-year ban from the sport for former IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dolle.
“There is no systemic corruption within the IAAF, but instead a dedicated staff with high ethical standards whose work has contributed greatly to the fight against doping,” read the IAAF response in part. “The IAAF trusts that the actions of an alleged corrupt few will not be allowed to take away from that fact.”
In its response, the IAAF also claims that “no doping case has been covered up by the IAAF” but claims that the governing body is aware of four cases, rather than eight identified by the Independent Commission, where “there were unexplained and suspicious delays in the prescribed results management process”.
“Even if there are only four ABP cases where results management was improperly delayed, by 3-6 months, that is clearly four too many,” the response read in part. “While the IAAF takes solace from the fact that the IAAF staff members prevented any further delay, and ensured that in each case the athlete was eventually charged, provisionally suspended pending determination of the charge, and then banned for a lengthy period, with relevant results disqualified, nevertheless the IAAF will be proposing reforms in the near future designed to ensure there cannot even be an attempt at improper interference with any doping case in the future.
“Those proposals, which involve the establishment of an integrity unit reporting to independent oversight committees and audited by independent external auditors, will also consider carefully the recommendations in the IC Report that the IAAF appoint somebody to monitor Code compliance and the potential role of an Ombudsman to whom athletes and athlete support personnel can turn for advice and assistance.”
In conclusion, the response, which can be read in full here, stated: “As demonstrated above, there is no systemic corruption within the IAAF, but rather a dedicated staff with high ethical standards whose work has contributed greatly to the fight against doping in sport not only in athletics specifically, but also (through the support and assistance that the IAAF Medical & Anti-Doping Department has provided to WADA over the years) in the whole of sport generally.
“Stakeholders in athletics can therefore have confidence that the IAAF will continue to do, as it has done for the last 50 years, whatever is necessary to protect the integrity of the sport from the scourge of doping.”
The full IAAF response document can be found here.