Geneva - Athletics is braced to be rocked
on Monday by a damning report into allegations of widespread doping and
blackmail in a sport long-viewed as the flagship of the Olympic Games.
Just 270 days out from the start of the
2016 Rio Olympics, an independent commission set up by the World Anti-Doping
Agency (WADA) will release its findings into a scandal already viewed as more
damaging than the corruption crisis engulfing world football governing body FIFA.
"This is going to be a real
game-changer for sport," said the report's co-author Richard McLaren.
"You potentially have a bunch of old
men who put a whole lot of extra money in their pockets through extortion and
The commission, chaired by former WADA
president and Canadian lawyer Dick Pound, will report on allegations of doping
which were first aired in a German TV documentary in December 2014.
That programme claimed Russian track and
field was plagued by doping.
The Sunday Times and the ARD channel also
obtained a database belonging to the International Association of Athletics
Federations (IAAF) which contained more than 12,000 blood tests taken from
around 5,000 athletes between 2001 to 2012.
Allegations snowballed last week when the Mediapart
news website claimed that Russian athletics chiefs and the sons of the former
world body president Lamine Diack blackmailed athletes suspected of doping to
let them keep competing.
Mediapart said it has seen the report which
will be made public on Monday.
French police last Tuesday charged
82-year-old Diack with corruption over suspicions he took bribes worth over $1
Mediapart also said six Russian athletes,
including top marathon runner Lilya Shobukhova, were the targets of blackmail attempts
by Russian athletics federation officials.
It quoted the WADA report as saying
Shobukhova, who had her ban reduced after giving evidence to IAAF
investigators, handed over $569 000 between 2012 and 2014 to a Russian coach,
Alexey Melnikov, who acted as an intermediary.
The report added that Diack's two sons,
Pape Massata Diack and Khalil Diack, were alleged to have asked for $500 000
from Turkey's 1500m women's Olympic champion Asli Cakir Alptekin in November
2012, but she refused.
Alptekin was suspended in April 2013 for
abnormal blood samples and is now serving an eight-year ban and has been
stripped of her London Olympics and European titles.
Papa Massata Diack will face charges for
various alleged breaches of the IAAF Code of Ethics.
He will be joined by three others at a
private hearing before a Panel of the Ethics Commission in London on December
They are Valentin Balakhnichev, former
president of the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF), Melnikov, former chief
coach of Russia's long distance walkers and runners, and Gabriel Dolle, former
director of the IAAF's Anti-Doping Department.
Balakhnichev had stood down as IAAF
treasurer at the same time as Papa Massata Diack's resignation, while Dolle was
also charged with corruption by French police.
Current IAAF president Sebastian Coe on
Sunday expressed his "shock, anger and sadness" at the allegations of
"I'm shocked, angry and largely
saddened," Coe said.
"The allegations that we woke up to
around the potential for extortion and blackmail came out of the blue and the
vast majority in the sport probably share exactly the same emotions I've just
expressed. It's shock, anger and sadness."
Coe, a two-time Olympic 1500 metres gold
medallist for Britain, insisted that the IAAF's anti-doping strategy was not
"Our sport was the pioneering partner
in the blood passport," he said. "It was introduced in 2009 and the
very first sanction was in place in 2011.
"Since then, through the use of the
blood passport there have been 85 sanctions in the whole of sport and 69 of
them have come from athletics. That's more than any other sport and more than
every other sport put together and interestingly more than through any national
anti-doping agency. So no, we're not complacent."