The IAAF has denied any suggestion it looked to cover up Russian doping cases in the run-up to the London Olympics.
It was reported on Tuesday evening that leaked internal documents from athletics’ beleaguered world governing body showed that before the 2012 Games it proposed keeping doping bans for less well-known Russian athletes under wraps.
The documents reportedly stated that high-profile Russia athletes who had doped would be banned in the usual manner as their disappearance from competition would create too great a stir, but suggested sanctions for lower-profile athletes could be hidden from public view.
However, the IAAF said in a statement: “Every suspicious ABP (athlete biological passport) profile was investigated in full accordance with IAAF rules and the world anti-doping code. All confirmed doping cases were publicly sanctioned. Nothing was covered up.”
It added: “In 2011 there was a huge influx of suspicious profiles coming through the ABP. Each case takes an average of eight months to 18 months from investigation to sanction.
“There was a need to prioritise, and in particular to expedite those cases which involved potential medal winners ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games. No cases were concealed or suppressed, the IAAF simply tackled them in order of importance. Every athlete was investigated and has either been sanctioned or is currently going through a legal process as part of being sanctioned.”
The crisis-stricken IAAF is braced for further blows to its credibility this week, with the second part of the World Anti-Doping Agency report into Russian doping to come on Thursday. Part one revealed state-sponsored doping in the country which resulted in them being suspended by the IAAF.
Last week three of athletics’ leading figures – Papa Massata Diack, the son of the former IAAF president Lamine Diack and a marketing consultant for the organisation, former Russian athletics federation (ARAF) president and IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev, and Alexei Melnikov, a senior ARAF coach – were handed lifetime bans for blackmailing athletes and covering up positive drugs tests.
Lamine Diack, Lord Coe’s predecessor as president, is the subject of a police investigation over claims he took money to cover up positive tests by Russian athletes.
Meanwhile, Coe’s right-hand man at the IAAF, Nick Davies, has stepped aside from his role as the director of the president’s office while he is investigated by the IAAF’s ethics commission.
Davies faces allegations of unethical behaviour after the French newspaper Le Monde obtained a copy of an email sent by him in which he appears to discuss delaying the identification of Russian drug cheats in the run-up to the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. He denies any wrongdoing.