Athletics’ world governing body, the IAAF, is expected to provisionally suspend Russia at a meeting of its ruling council on Friday ahead of a formal disciplinary hearing, following revelations of systemic doping in the country.
It follows a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission which detailed “state-sponsored” doping and cover-ups in Russia.
Mutko, who was described by commission chairman Dick Pound of being “complicit” in the scandal, said Britain’s anti-doping system must be worth “zero” if it failed to catch six Russian athletes with previous suspicious test results whom the WADA report said competed in London.
He told Russia’s Interfax news agency: “In that case, then your [Britain’s] system is zero and even worse than ours.”
Mutko also described as “absurd” calls for his membership of FIFA’s executive committee to be reviewed in light of the WADA report. He also said he was prepared to put a “foreign specialist” in charge of Russia’s suspended anti-doping laboratory if that is needed. It is understood that IAAF president Seb Coe wants to have the disciplinary process completed within a month. He will chair the council meeting tomorrow (fri) where Russia’s immediate future in the sport will be decided.
A provisional suspension would see Russians excluded from international athletics competition, including events such as the London marathon. The suspension would have to be confirmed by a disciplinary panel which could see the country banned until it can prove its anti-doping programme is working properly.
Russia could also be stripped of two IAAF events next year: the world junior championships in Kazan in July and the world race walking team championships planned for Cheboksary in May.
Coe has insisted he will not fail in his task to clean up athletics.
He said: “I won’t fail, but I also accept that this is a huge journey. I have to do this without fear or favour, and I fully accept that I may not even be around when the full fruits of what I need to do are probably going to be recognised.” He said he launched a review the day after he won the IAAF presidency and he is speeding it up in the face of this week’s report.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach, in an interview with New Zealand television, gave Russia a lifeline after Pound recommended it should be banned from the 2016 Games. Bach said: “I think also Russia will co-operate to make progress and to be sure that Russian athletics are compliant with WADA. This is what it needs to be in order to participate in the Olympic Games.
“Now we have this enquiry about athletics, the international federation will draw its conclusion and will take the necessary measures. We’re convinced that the president, Sebastian Coe, will do whatever is necessary.”
Meanwhile, MP Damian Collins, a member of Britain’s Parliamentary culture, media and sport committee, has written to the UK’s Serious Fraud Office asking it to investigate corruption in athletics connected to the London Olympics.