Radcliffe dubious about change in Russian anti-doping system
MONACO (AP) Paula Radcliffe, the world record-holder in the women's marathon, is skeptical whether Russia has done enough to clean up its drug-testing program in time for the Olympics. She also questions whether Russian athletes would know how to ''train without cheating'' if allowed back for the Rio Games in August.
The Russian track and field federation was suspended in November after an independent report by a World Anti-Doping Agency panel detailed systematic corruption and doping cover-ups in Russia. The WADA investigation followed allegations made in a documentary by German broadcaster ARD.
The International Association of Athletics Federations has laid down a series of criteria for the Russians to meet before they can be eligible for readmission. The IAAF is scheduled to hold a news conference on Friday after a two-day meeting of its ruling council.
ARD aired another documentary Sunday, in which Russian coach Vladimir Mokhnev was accused of continuing to train athletes while he serves an IAAF suspension. The program alleged another coach offered banned substances for sale and that the acting head of the Russian anti-doping agency had allowed an unidentified athlete to reschedule a supposedly no-notice drug test.
Speaking to The Associated Press in Monaco, Radcliffe spoke of her shock at watching ARD's ''very damaging'' revelations.
''It doesn't seem like, a lot has changed,'' she said. ''So if the decision was being made now, based on that - (and) I'm not privy to whatever information they (the IAAF) have - then I would say no, not enough has been done,'' Radcliffe said.
''I think everybody had some suspicions but (not) that it was on that scale, and so supported by the state, and so much the norm,'' she added. ''Quite honestly now, if they are allowed back in and they do come back in clean, I doubt whether there'll be that much performance there because I doubt whether they actually know how to train without cheating.''
Radcliffe, a three-time winner of the New York and London marathons, is a member of the IAAF's athletes commission. On Thursday, she threw her support behind a drive to get Russia's track federation to refund all prize money and appearance fees of athletes whose results have been nullified for doping offenses since 2009.
''They should have to repay what they've essentially stolen so it can be redistributed to the athletes who should have won it,'' Radcliffe told AP.
Radcliffe made a well-publicized stance against doping during the 2001 world champions in Edmonton. During the heat of the 5,000 meters she held up a sign protesting against the reinstatement of Russian athlete Olga Yegorova after she had tested positive for the banned blood-booster EPO.
''I knew in 2001 that something was going on when I was getting beat week in, week out, by Yegorova, (Tatyana) Tomashova, but I couldn't ever prove it. When Yegorova did fail a test that year, that's when I held up the banner,'' Radcliffe said. ''(The IAAF) threatened to throw me out if I didn't put it away. I was stupid, I should have just said `OK, throw me out.'''
Radcliffe, who retired from competition last year, was publicly implicated during a British Parliamentary hearing last August into allegations leveled by British and German media of rampant blood doping in endurance events.
Radcliffe was cleared by the IAAF, and Britain's national anti-doping agency agreed there was no case against her after reviewing her test results.
''I'm very angry about it and that's one of the things I keep saying: `You can't go out and accuse an athlete,''' she said. ''You have to have proof, and what we have to do is find as much proof as possible for people we have suspicions about. That I totally get.''
Radcliffe felt she was treated unfairly compared to Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, who announced Monday that that she had tested positive for meldonium at the Australian Open. Sharapova is provisionally suspended pending a hearing into her case.
''I hadn't actually done anything wrong. But she's failed a test,'' Radcliffe said. ''It's not about bitterness, but it should be equal and fair across the board across all sports.''
IAAF President Sebastian Coe has a huge task to clean up the sport in the wake of the Russian doping and the corruption scandals exposed within the IAAF itself.
''It is moving forward, but it's a tough job to move it forward and get the changes through,'' Radcliffe said. ''But that's my point: If the sport all pulls together and actually tries to proactively do something in the right direction, we're going to get a lot further than if we all sit here and go `It's terrible. What a mess. We don't want him (Coe) in there.'''