IAAF pair step down in athletics doping probe

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PARIS: The treasurer of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Valentin Balakhnichev, and the son of the body’s president Lamine Diack have stepped down while corruption and doping allegations are investigated.

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Balakhnichev is also the president of the Russian Athletics Federation, while Diack’s son Papa Massata Diack has been working for the IAAF as a marketing consultant.

The moves follow the fall out after the screening last Wednesday of a German made 60-minute documentary “Secret Doping Dossier: How Russia produces its Winners”, which was aired by German state broadcaster ARD.

The IAAF ethics commission has now launched an investigation into the claims of institutionalised doping, prompting Balakhnichev into his decision Thursday to step down until the matter has been fully investigated.

The film claimed Russia, hosts of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, was involved in widespread systematic doping of its athletes, and pointed the finger at Balakhnichev.

A transcript in English of the documentary and a previous ARD aired programme “SportSchau” have been forwarded to the independent IAAF Ethics Commission.

The documentary includes hard-hitting accusations by 800m runner Yulia Stepanova, who is banned until January for a doping violation, and her husband Vitaly Stepanov, who worked for Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA between 2008 and 2011.

It also featured a list of 150 athletes who returned suspicious blood test results between 2006-2008, and which included three Britons, one of whom is high profile.

IAAF council member Helmut Digel has said Russia should not be considered an isolated case.

“Physicians and pharmacists operate like criminals and organise, guide and support this fraud at international sporting events,” Digel told Frankfurt-based newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

The International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said Saturday he would impose a “zero tolerance” punishment if accusations widespread doping by Russian athletes are proved.

Russian officials have strongly denied the claims of state-backed doping made in the documentary. And the Russian athletics federation has said it is considering legal action.

Diack has stepped down after allegations of possible corruption linked to the attribution of the 2017 world athletics championships, which was handed to London ahead of Qatar.

Diack has also suspended his activities temporarily.

His father Lamine Diack from Senegal, was elected president of the IAAF in 1999 but has said he will not stand for reelection next year.

AFP

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