Corruption ‘embedded’ in the IAAF: second WADA report

Photo: tableatny/Flickr

Photo: tableatny/Flickr


By Stine Alvad
The second report from WADA’s Independent Commission discloses extensive corruption, nepotism and abuse of power in the IAAF as well as an undermining of the anti-doping structure in the association.

In the second and last report from WADA’s Independent Commission, headed by Canadian lawyer and IOC member Richard W. Pound, a sharp critique is directed not just at a few top officials but at the entire IAAF management. The first report was presented in November 2015 and recommended a ban on Russian athletics for up-holding a state-supported doping system.

The second WADA report accounting for the investigation that was initiated after revelations by German ARD TV and British The Sunday Times was presented yesterday in Munich and it includes further details on how systematic doping in Russia took place and how some of these cases were knowingly covered up by the very top of the IAAF.

But while former IAAF president Lamine Diack was named as being "responsible for organizing and enabling the conspiracy and corruption that took place in the IAAF”, the report directs the responsibility for the corruption, not only at Diack and his closest allies, who were sanctioned by the IAAF earlier this week, but at the entire IAAF management. 

"It is increasingly clear that far more IAAF staff knew about the problems than has currently been acknowledged. The corruption was embedded in the organization. It cannot be ignored or dismissed as attributable to the odd renegade acting on his own,” the report says.

Pound also underlined that the IAAF had shown “no genuine appetite to deal with the problems”.

Among the problems described in the report are “an unacceptable nepotism structure”, a Russian TV rights deal that went from $6 mio to $25 mio, possibly in exchange for cover-ups, and the extortion of athletes, who were asked to pay in return for the covering up of their positive doping samples.

"We may have only examined the tip of the iceberg in respect to athletes who may have been extorted," said Richard McLaren, one of the three members of the Independent Commssion.

It was also made clear that the leaked database containing information on 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012 did not qualify as a means to prosecute any named athletes.

IAAF must reform
The report lists a number of recommendations for the IAAF to take under advisement in the urgent task of recovering the IAAF. The recommendations include:

  • The introduction of organisational reforms and a review of governance structures and principles
  • A follow up on the athletes believed to have been extorted
  • The recognition and encouragement of whistleblowers in corruption matters
  • A separation of the anti-doping work from the political work of the IAAF
  • The establishment of an independent compliance committee

In a statement from WADA on the findings of the commission, WADA president, Sir Craig Reedie, directed gratitude towards the whistleblowers and journalists who initiated the process of revealing what he described as “flagrant disregard for the law and anti-doping rules” within the IAAF and pointed to the need for reform.

“I would like to thank the courageous whistle-blowers and investigative journalists who brought this information to WADA,” Reedie said. “It is now important that the IAAF, under the leadership of Sebastian Coe, adopts the recommendations of the Report in full. For our part, WADA looks forward to working alongside the IAAF to strengthen its anti-doping activities and regain the confidence of its clean athletes worldwide.”

While the revelations in the report were somewhat anticipated, what caused more surprise during the press conference was that Pound chose to express confidence in current IAAF president and former vice-president Sebastian Coe as one who could restore the trust in the athletics body.

"There is an enormous amount of reputational recovery, and I can think of no one better than Lord Coe to lead that," Pound said at the press conference that had Coe among the audience.

As for Russia, Pound said that with the reports, the commission had set out the path for Russian athletics and described the current situation as “a fabulous opportunity to move forward”.

“All of this can be resolved if Russia focuses on getting its act together,” Pound said, leaving a door open for Russian athletics in the future.

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