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WADA doping commission calls for suspension of Russian athletes

The doping commission has accused the Russian government of 'direct intimidation' of a Moscow doping lab and says the lab should lose its accreditation. A ban would prevent Russian athletes from competing in Rio 2016.

An independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has recommended that the Russian Athletics Federation be banned from the sport after widespread doping offences and systematic failures.

The commission's report, published on Monday, "identified systemic failures within the IAAF and Russia" that prevent or diminish the possibility of an effective anti-doping programme.

The ban, if adopted by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), would prevent Russian athletes from participating in IAAF-sanctioned events such as the Olympic Games and world and European championships.

The commission said Moscow’s under-fire anti-doping lab should be stripped of its accreditation and its director be sacked. The investigation was tasked to look into allegations of widespread doping and blackmail in Athletics, a sport long-viewed as the flagship of the Olympic Games.

The commission, chaired by former WADA president and Canadian lawyer Dick Pound, also recommended that five Russian athletes, including Olympic 800m champion Maria Savanova, and five coaches be given lifetime doping bans.

Widespread doping within Russian athletics "could not have happened" without the awareness and consent of the Moscow government, Pound said at the launch of the report.

The doping allegations were first aired in December 2014 in a German TV documentary by journalist Hajo Seppelt, who caused a stir by showing indications of systematic doping within the Russian Athletics Federation. The documentary claimed that Russian officials accepted bribes from athletes to not only cover up dope tests but also to supply banned substances.

Seppelt followed his revelation with an hour-long report

in August putting Kenyan long-distance runners under the scanner. The report suggested that many marathon runners and other track-and-field athletes from the African nation engage in blood doping.

Britain's Sunday Times and Germany's ARD channel also obtained a database belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) which contained more than 12,000 blood tests taken from around 5,000 athletes between 2001 and 2012. The database revealed that one-third of the medals in track-and-field endurance races had been won by athletes with suspicious doping tests, with none of them having been stripped of their medals.

French police last Tuesday charged 82-year-old former world body president Lamine Diack with corruption

over suspicions he took bribes worth over $1 million.

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