19 anti-doping agencies call for all-out Russia ban
The heads of 19 National Anti-Doping Organizations (NADOs) called for 2018 World Cup host Russia to be banned from all sporting activity until a proper anti-doping system is in place.
Their statement, released after a meeting in Dublin, also called on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to take over the investigation presently under the aegis of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) into the 1,000 Russian athletes said to have been part of a state-sponsored doping system exposed by the damning report produced by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren, AFP reported.
WADA they say should also have the power to investigate sports federations that are "now facing extensive evidence of doping and cover-ups following the publication of McLaren’s efforts".
NADO — the United States, Japan, France and Germany were among the countries attending the meeting — conceded that Russian athletes should be allowed to compete as neutrals if they had undergone intensive doping controls.
"With the best interests of clean athletes at heart, it is our hope that these proposals will help sport move past these dark times and pave a path towards a brighter future — one where the promise of clean competition is fulfilled," said the leaders in a joint statement.
"But in order to do so, steps must be taken, and it is imperative that those responsible for Russia's state-supported system are held accountable, that calls for a truly independent anti-doping model are finally heeded and those athletes affected by this abhorrent behavior are given back at least some of what was taken from them.
"Lastly, with many international federations now facing extensive evidence of doping and cover-ups following the publication of McLaren’s efforts, the NADO leaders look to WADA, the global regulator, to monitor and act — as required by the Code and UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) Treaty Against Doping in Sport — to ensure evidence is investigated and appropriate consequences are applied," the statement added.
Russian sports officials on Wednesday blasted NADO's statement, saying it represented a deliberate attempt to discredit the country.
"Don't pay attention to these statements," Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko told R-Sport news agency, RIA Novosti reported. "This is a thought-out attack on Russian sport whose objective is to discredit it."
Russia's image in world sports has been severely tarnished by evidence of state-sponsored doping that saw the country's athletics team and entire Paralympics squad excluded from the Rio Games last summer.
Moscow has consistently denied the existence of any government-run scheme to cheat its way to medal glory and says it is doing all it can to reform its doping control system in a bid to crack down on drug use.
Travis Tygart, head of the US Anti-Doping Agency, told insidethegames after the NADO meeting the ban on hosting events should include next year's football World Cup.
"We continue to hear from athletes across the group (of NADO countries) whose concerns have not been addressed," Tygart said.
"So we are reigniting our urgency to hold Russia to account in order to give confidence."