Rocked by doping scandals, Russia has still come up short in their efforts to eradicate doping in athletics. Former WADA president Dick Pound does not believe Russia will clean up its act in time for the 2016 Olympics.
Marred by more accusations of doping, Russia did not receive a promising endorsment from Dick Pound, the head of the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
The former WADA president believes Russian athletes will not be considered clean enough to participate in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. "My guess is Russia may not make it back for Rio. The IAAF and WADA are not going to risk their reputations by rolling over and playing dead," Pound said at an anti-doping conference.
"There seems to be some evidence that they're just changing deckchairs on the Titanic," he added. "The Russians seem to assume the controversy will disappear and there should be no question of their participation in Rio."
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) suspended the Russian athletics federation (ARAF) from international competition in November until they could prove to the WADA they have met a series of conditions regarding its anti-doping operation. Russia elected not to appeal the suspension, hoping instead to pursue avenues to become re-eligible.
However, a documentary German broadcaster ARD ran on Sunday casted new doubts on Russia's ability to erradicate doping. The documentary, "Russia's Red Herrings," claimed Russian coaches that were suspended were still working in athletics and others continued to provide banned substances to athletes.
No sorrow for Sharapova
Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova has admitted to a failed drug test involving meldonium, but the former WADA president was not impressed. Speaking with France's press agency (AFP), Pound showed no sympathy for Sharapova after Monday's admission.
"If it had been a spontaneous acknowledgement that she had taken this stuff and somehow didn't realize it was a banned substance (you could honestly praise her), but she got caught," Pound said.
The ARAF claimed on Wednesday it had warned its athletes against the use of meldonium after the WADA added the drug to its banned substance list on January 1. "The ARAF has on multiple occasions warned sports people, coaches, and support staff that, since Jan. 1 this year, meldonium is included on the list of banned substances," the organization said in a statement.
Russian sports officials have also implied several other competitors have taken the substance - used to treat diabetes and low magnesium - meaning more names could surface in relation with the drug.
kd/dv (Reuters, SID, AFP)