WADA Widens Net In IAAF Extortion Report

For the first time, the World Anti-Doping Agency has confirmed that senior IAAF officials  attempted extortion beyond Russia and included a Turkish athlete, believed to be Asli Cakir Alptekin, the London 2012 1500m gold medalist.

Asli Cakir Alptekin

A 170-page report by the International Association of Athletics Federations unveiled cover-ups and blackmail at the highest level of athletics. The report referenced a September 2014 meeting between the WADA chairman, Sir Craig Reedie, and the then deputy Russian Sports Minister Yuri Nagornykh. The sports minister told Reedie Valentin Balakhnichev, president of the All Russia Athletics Federation and one of four senior officials who were banned by the IAAF ethics commission, had told him that the All-Russia Athletic Federation had been blackmailed by the IAAF since 2011 and the same "strategy" was in place not only in Russia but, potentially, in other countries such as Morocco and Turkey.

Former WADA President Dick pound will be presenting the second part of his investigation next week into systemic doping in Russia and the related corruption at the highest levels of the IAAF under Lamine Diack, the previous IAAF president. Lamine's son Papa Massata Diack, and his lawyer, Habib Cissé, were named in the report submitted IAAF ethics commission as being at the centre of a scheme to cover up a positive test by Lilya Shubukhova, the marathon runner, in return for €450,000. Papa Massata Diack was recently banned for life while the former IAAF anti-doping chief Gabriel Dollé was banned for five years. The ex-IAAF anti-doping chief has been questioned by French prosecutors who are investigating allegations that Lamine pocketed more than €1m in return for covering up doping rule violations.

In the first part of his report, Pound referred to Alptekin and said the world governing body of athletics ought to have expedited the matter to an Athlete Biological Passport expert panel prior to the pending 2012 London Games. Diack remarked Coe and Sergey Bubka, then vice-presidents to Diack, could have acted sooner to press for a review on governance and must have overhauled the IAAF’s “19th-century constitution” Diack said they had an opportunity a long time ago to address issues of governance, and you saw from the International Olympic Committee what happens if you don’t do that.

Referring to the case, the French prosecutor Elaine Houlette said Alptekin was approached a few months after the London Games and it was suggested she could pay to avoid punishment. Houlette added it was sort of blackmail and Alptekin refused. Alptekin was banned for eight years and stripped of her London 2012 gold in 2015.

The Dutch IAAF Council member Sylvia Barlag moved to defend Sebastian Coe, who won elections on the promise that he will restore credibility of the sport. Coe recently said that he would overhaul structure of the world governing body of athletics in the face of continued questions over his handling of the crisis. Barlag added Sebastian championed the establishment of the Ethics Commission and Code on the IAAF Council. Barlag also remarked the IAAF, without the independent commission, would not have had the mechanisms in place to investigate these matters which resulted in the sanctions which were delivered yesterday.

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