World governing body the IAAF, led by Lord Coe, has given the country until Friday to respond to a litany of allegations contained in a bombshell World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report.
Wada’s independent commission accused Russia of running a state-sponsored doping programme, covering up positive tests and bribing officials to allow dirty athletes to continue to compete.
The alleged conspiracy, Wada’s report added, meant that the London 2012 Olympics was effectively “sabotaged” because individuals who ought to have been banned were allowed to take part. The Kremlin has dismissed the allegations.
“We admit some things, we argue with some things, some are already fixed – it’s a variety,” said Vadim Zelichenok, acting president of Russia’s athletics federation.
Wada’s report called for five Russian athletes, including Mariya Savinova-Farnosova, who won 800m gold in London, to be handed life bans, and for the country to be suspended.
Russia won 17 medals in athletics at the Games three years ago, of which eight were gold, four silver and five bronze. They won 81 medals in total in London, of which 24 were gold.
Former Wada chief Dick Pound, who co-authored the report, said it was likely other sports had been affected by Russia’s doping programme, calling it “the tip of the iceberg”.
Sports minister Vitaly Mutko, who on Wednesday attempted to blame British anti-doping officials for any tainted London 2012 medallists, urged the IAAF not to issue a ban on all Russian athletes.
“It will be painful for those athletes with clean consciences who could compete, that’s the first thing,” said Mutko, who ruled out the possibility of all Russian sportsmen boycotting Rio if their athletes were banned. “And the second thing is that it goes against the spirit of the Wada code.”
Russian president Vladimir Putin vowed to co-operate with international bodies but insisted a national ban would be unfair when he addressed the controversy this week.
“It is essential that we conduct our own internal investigation and – I want to underline – provide the most open professional co-operation with international anti-doping structures,” Putin said.
“Sportsmen who don’t dope and never have must not answer for those who break the rules. If we find that someone must be held responsible for something of the sort that breaks the rules in place against doping, then the responsibility must be personalised – that’s the rule.”