Pound: Corruption Was Everywhere At IAAF, Says Coe Right Man To Fix Problem

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An 89-page report centering on the IAAF corruption was released today in Munich, with former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound stating that the IAAF Council must’ve known of the widespread doping practices in Russia and did not prevent them. 

“The IAAF Council could not have been unaware of the extent of doping in athletics and non-enforcement of anti-doping rules,” the report said. “The corruption was embedded in the organization. It cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on its own.”

Despite this, Pound, chair of the independent commission who delivered the report, gave his endorsement to current IAAF president Sebastian Coe, saying he was the right man for the job. Coe was the IAAF vice president from 2007 up until his election as president this past August. 

“I can’t think of anyone better than Lord Coe to deal with the problems. All our fingers are crossed,” Pound said on the teleconference.

"My assessment of Lord Coe is that if he knew there was corruption going on, he would have done something about it," Pound said. 

Pound was not so kind to Coe’s predecessor, Lamine Diack, who the report found “was responsible for organizing and enabling the conspiracy and corruption” that occurred within the IAAF. 

According to the WADA independent commission’s report, the disgraced former IAAF president Diack felt there was no way to keep nine Russian athletes accused of doping from competing at the World Championships in Moscow other than to conspire with Russian president Vladimir Putin, with whom Diack had built a friendship. 

The athletes ultimately never competed in Moscow, but the inaction from the IAAF led to its lawyer Huw Roberts’ resignation in January 2014.

Diack “sanctioned and appears to have had personal knowledge of the fraud and extortion of athletes,” the report said. In November, the 82-year-old was arrested in France on charges of bribing Russian athletes to avoid doping bans as well as money-laundering. The sum of the money he is said to have collected is north of $1 million. 

Last week, the IAAF ethics commission gave life bans to Diack’s son, Papa, the former IAAF marketing director, as well as former Russian Athletics Federation president Valentin Balakhnichev and Russian endurance coach Alexei Melnikov for their roles in the extortion of Russian marathoner Lililya Shobukhova. A fourth, former IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dolle was given a five-year ban. 

Today’s report blasted the inaction of the IAAF Council to stop the permissible Russian doping. 

“It is not credible that elected officials were unaware of the situation affecting athletics in Russia. If, therefore, the circle of knowledge was so extensive, why was nothing done? Quite obviously, there was no appetite on the part of the IAAF to challenge Russia,” the report says.

Interestingly, Pound stated that the findings of the ARD/Sunday Times from a leaked database of doping tests could not be used to prosecute athletes since the data was incomplete. 

In the documentary aired by ARD in August, renowned doping experts Michael Ashenden and Robin Parisotto supported the tests as proof that over one-third of medals won in the 800 to the marathon from 2001-2012 came from athletes with suspicious blood values. The documentary alleges that the IAAF knew of this and did nothing to stop it. 

Pound, however, said today that the information pulled from the database was not solid proof of doping violations, and thus, the IAAF was right not to ban the athletes.

This story, of course, is only beginning. The investigators believe athletes from other countries besides Russia have been blackmailed, calling their findings only “the tip of the iceberg,” in regards to the massive levels of extortion headed by Lamine Diack.

Shortly after today's report was unveiled, the IAAF issued a statement acknowledging that the "weakness of IAAF's governance which has been exposed allowed individuals at the head of the previous regime at the IAAF to delay the following of normal procedures in certain doping cases." 

Coe, for his part, called the corruption revealed today "abhorrent." He made sure to point out that all of the doping cases presented in the report eventually led to lengthy bans for the guilty athletes. 

"We cannot change the past, but I am determined that we will learn from it and will not repeat its mistakes," Coe said.  

Today's revelations followed the independent commission's first report from back in November which detailed state-sponsored doping in Russia. The findings in that report led the IAAF Council to provisionally suspend the Russian Athletics Federation. The nation must satisfy a criteria before they are reinstated, a process that may not be complete before the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The nation will not compete in March's World Indoor Championships in Portland due to the suspension. 

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