What next for sport and the IAAF in the wake of Russia’s doping crisis?

Published 10 November 2015 By: Jack Anderson


In December 2014, a German TV documentary made some astonishing claims about systemic doping in Russian athletics.1 Based principally on evidence provided by a former Russian anti-doping official, the programme alleged that leading Russian athletics officials supplied banned substances in exchange for 5% of an athlete’s earnings. There were also allegations both of doping control officers colluding with athletes to falsify tests and attempting to blackmail athletes who had tested positive.

A subsequent investigation by the Sunday Times, based on an analysis of 12,000 blood tests taken from 5,000 athletes over the past decade, reinforced the view that Russia is the “epicentre” of blood doping in sport.2

Earlier this month, French prosecutors announced that the former President of the IAAF (the world governing body for athletics), Lamine Diack,3 is being investigated over allegations he took payments for deferring sanctions against Russian drugs cheats. Diack’s son and three others have also been charged with various alleged breaches of the IAAF’s code of ethics.

French prosecutors, now liaising with Interpol,4 were acting on information supplied by the World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) who, in the wake of the German TV doping documentary, had established an independent commission to verify the accuracy of the programme’s allegations.


Extent of problems revealed by the Independent Commission Report

The Independent Commission Report (IRC)5 published on 9 November 2015, (WADA’s ICR on Russian Doping) has essentially concluded that the German investigation was accurate. In the immediate aftermath of this report, much media attention will focus on whether Russia should be temporarily suspended from the IAAF and how the current IAAF President, Seb Coe, might attempt to restore the credibility of the sport, less than ten months from the beginning of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio, at which athletics will be the centrepiece of the final week of action.

On the Russian “problem”,6 it must also be remembered that the allegations in the German TV documentary were not confined to athletics and referred to doping conspiracies in a host of endurance events and including “state-sponsored” collusion at a troika of Russian government funded agencies –the national anti-doping agency, the national athletics federation and the nation’s WADA-accredited anti-doping laboratory in Moscow and possibly in Lausanne.

Consequently, the IAAF’s problem becomes the world’s problem as doubt is cast on medals won by Russian participants not just at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, but also at the 2013 World Athletics Championships (held in Moscow), the 2014 Winter Olympics (Sochi) and this year’s World Swimming Championship held in Kazan. Moreover, it is likely the FIFA will have to look again at who manages its on-site anti-doping programme for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.


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Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson

Jack Anderson is Professor and Director of Sports Law Studies at the University of Melbourne. The sports law program at Melbourne was one of the first to be established globally in the mid-1980 and continues to expand at the Melbourne Law School, which itself is ranked in the top 10 law schools globally.

Jack has published widely in the area including monographs such as The Legality of Boxing (Routledge 2007) and Modern Sports Law (Hart 2010) and edited collections such as Landmark Cases in Sports Law (Asser 2013) and EU Sports Law (Edward Elgar 2018 with R Parrish and B Garcia). He was Editor-in-Chief of the International Sports Law Journal based at the International Sports Law Centre at the Asser Institute from 2013 to 2016. 

Jack is a former member of CAS (2016-2018).  He became a member of the inaugural International Amateur Athletics Federation’s Disciplinary Tribunal and the International Hockey Federation’s Integrity Unit in 2017.  In 2019, he was appointed to the International Tennis Federation’s Ethics Commission. He is currently chair of the Advisory Group establishing a National Sports Tribunal for Australia

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