Russia's Redemption Campaign Hit by Lingering Doping Doubts
With a world athletics championships looming in London in 2017, the disclosure of another Russian gold medal doping failure from the 2012 London Olympics has again hit Russia's case for a return.
Russia has been alleged to conduct state-sponsored doping
Russia has been suspended by WADA and IAAF
Russia denied there was any government involvement in doping
With a world athletics championships looming in London in 2017, the disclosure on Monday of another Russian gold medal doping failure from the 2012 London Olympics has again hit Russia's case for a return.
Yuliya Zaripova, who won the 3,000 metres steeplechase in London, was revealed by the International Olympic Committee as having tested positive for the steroid turinabol. Two silver medal winning weightlifters from Russia were also caught in new analyses of their samples.
A new report by World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) investigator Richard McLaren to be released on December 9 could increase the problems.
Russia's case -- tainted by an inquiry which alleged state-sponsored doping -- and how to reform the international anti-doping regime dominated a meeting of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) last weekend.
Russia is suspended by WADA, the International Association of Athletic Associations (IAAF), and under an intense spotlight in other sports.
Vladimir Smirnov, a former Russian sports minister who heads the country's anti-doping commission, denied there was any government involvement.
But Dick Pound, head of WADA from 1999 to 2007, said however that Russia had to come clean and "recognise the problems" in doping.
WADA president Craig Reedie, who was reelected to another three year mandate in Glasgow on Sunday, said that Russia was heading "in the right direction" but was still mired in doping doubts.
Redemption and denial
"There were very clear breaches of the rules before. And while I am keen that they become compliant they have to become compliant under the rules. We can't just say that's fine we think you are better at it," Reedie told AFP in an interview.
"There is still quite a long way to go: access to samples in the laboratory, closed cities, education, testing capacity, we really have to train doping control officers -- so there is much to be done. But it is all underway."
Reedie said it was "important for sport that Russia becomes compliant". But he would not set a timetable for the country's return despite the campaign by the country's politicians and sports leaders.
"I think that in all honesty the senior officials in Russia and the senior officials in Russian life know that they have a problem and they have resolved to fix it," Reedie said.
"I agree with Dick that it would be helpful if there was complete disclosure but I can understand when people are careful in what they say. I want to be positive and move forward and accept their wish to solve their problem."
WADA is also facing its owns pressures on future reforms. It has faced a lot of criticism from international federations and the IOC, despite the Olympic movement's backing for Reedie's new term.
Some sports leaders have proposed setting up a new independent body, even outside WADA's control, to administer doping tests.
"A separate completely independent body might be attractive to international federations, I accept that completely," said Reedie.
"How we actually do it is a little bit more difficult because it is a question of how many federations would want to use it and it is a question of how much money sport is prepared to invest."
Financing for doping has long been a controversial question, especially as some governments cut back on spending.
According to Reedie, federations linked to the summer Olympic Games spend up to 29 million dollars a year on doping.
"How much of that would go to an independent agency I don't know. As far as money is concerned we have always been short," he said.