The international sports federation that rules over track and field events meets Friday to discuss provisionally banning Russia from competition.
The action follows an explosive report that details widespread doping in Russian athletics and says that officials at all levels of sport were party to the cheating.
Such a ban by the International Association of Athletics Federations, or IAAF, could mean Russia’s track and field team could theoretically be shut out of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
The report — commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency and led by former WADA President and International Olympic Committee Vice President Dick Pound — detailed a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels” of Russian athletics. It implicated athletes, coaches, doctors, laboratory personnel and even the state itself.
Among the myriad allegations in the report, investigators said athletes were often given advance notice of out-of-competition tests, used false identities and frequently bribed doping control officers to get around other tests.
The report even accused Russia’s state security service, the FSB, of using intimidation to influence the operations of a Moscow laboratory whose job it was to test samples for evidence of doping.
The head of that laboratory, Grigory Rodchenko, was identified in the report as an “aider and abettor of the doping activities.”
The investigators accused him of leading the destruction of more than 1,400 testing samples despite WADA pleas to preserve them.
The report’s authors even blasted the IAAF itself, saying the investigation had revealed “corruption and bribery practices at the highest levels of international athletics, evidence of which has been transmitted to Interpol for appropriate investigation.”
French prosecutors charged former IAAF President Lamine Diack last week with taking bribes from Russian sports officials to conceal positive doping results, according to media reports. The former head of the agency’s anti-doping program, Gabriel Dollé, is also facing charges, The Guardian newspaper reported.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country will conduct its own investigation and will cooperate with sporting federations looking into the allegations, state news agency Sputnik News reported.
On Friday, Sputnik quoted Minister of Sport Vitaly Mutko as acknowledging some doping problems in Russia, but saying that all Russian athletes shouldn’t be penalized. He had previously said Russia is prepared to follow WADA recommendations, the news agency reported.
Friday’s meeting will be conducted by teleconference. A majority of the 27 members of IAAF’s council must vote in favor of suspension for it to take effect.
If Russia is suspended indefinitely, it could affect the participation of Russian track and field athletes in the 2016 Olympics.
But International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach has said doesn’t think that will happen.
“I think also that Russia will cooperate to make progress and to be sure that Russian athletics are compliant with WADA,” he said this week. “This is what it needs to be in order to participate in the Olympic Games.”