Russian athletics chief leaves IAAF role

MOSCOW (AP) The head of the Russian athletics federation said Wednesday that he has stepped down from his role as IAAF treasurer while accusations of systematic doping by Russian athletes are investigated.

Valentin Balakhnichev said he and his federation had been subjected to ''brutal persecution'' following allegations in a German TV documentary that doping in Russia was commonplace and test results were routinely falsified.

Balakhnichev told the Tass agency he had stepped down voluntarily and plans to return to his International Association of Athletics Federations post at ''the end of the investigation into this doping scandal.''

The IAAF and the World Anti-Doping Agency have both said they are investigating the allegations.

The German program, broadcast by ARD last week, also appeared to show reigning Olympic 800-meter champion Maria Savinova admitting to using the banned steroid oxandrolone.

ARD and French sports daily L'Equipe reported that three-time Chicago Marathon winner Liliya Shobukhova paid 450,000 euros ($560,000) to avoid a doping ban. Shobukhova was eventually banned for doping and she said some of the money was refunded.

ARD has said it found evidence linking Shobukhova's apparent 300,000-euro refund payment to Balakhnichev. The Singapore-based company that allegedly made the payment is owned by a business partner of Papa Massata Diack, the son of IAAF president Lamine Diack, ARD said in another program broadcast Monday.

Balakhnichev has taken a combative stance against the allegations of Russian doping, calling them ''a provocation aimed at undermining Russian sport'' and threatening that his federation could sue for defamation over the ARD film.

The Russian Sports Ministry promised Monday that WADA investigators would receive ''complete assistance'' from the Russian authorities.

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