By John Leicester, AP
PARIS — Findings reported by The Associated Press that track and field officials contemplated hiding the full extent of Russian doping before the 2012 London Olympics are “most concerning” and warrant further investigation, the World Anti-Doping Agency said Wednesday.
The AP reported Tuesday that six years before the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banned Russia, the governing body knew of doping so out of control it feared Russian athletes could die from abusing blood-boosting drugs and transfusions, and officials considered collaborating with Russians to hide the extent of cheating before the London Games.
The findings came from internal IAAF documents the AP received from a person intimately involved in the IAAF’s anti-doping program. The person requested anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to release the documents.
Two internal IAAF papers before the London Olympics proposed not publishing doping sanctions for lesser-known Russians. That would have violated WADA rules and the notes themselves specified that the proposed non-disclosure would be contrary to usual IAAF practice. The IAAF confirmed the authenticity of the documents but said the proposed hush-up of Russian bans was never carried out.
WADA said its commission that is investigating Russian doping and cover-ups should investigate the findings, if it hasn’t already.
A second volume of findings from the WADA probe is due to be released Thursday. Its first report last November pointed to Russian government complicity in widespread, systematic doping, leading the IAAF to suspend Russia’s track and field athletes from international competition.
Athletes reacted with disgust at the new AP findings that IAAF blood tests as far back as 2009 were already providing shocking insight into the scale and gravity of Russian doping. The findings raised new questions about why the organization waited six years before suspending Russia, which could see its athletes miss the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August.
“It’s very disappointing,” Australian race walker Jared Tallent said Wednesday in an AP phone interview. “They knew Russia had massive problems back in 2009. Action should have been taken a lot sooner.”