IAAF to investigate new Russia doping claims
MOSCOW (AP) The IAAF said Sunday it will investigate claims that Russia is flouting demands for anti-doping reforms as it seeks readmission to world track and field in time for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August.
German TV broadcaster ARD alleged that a banned Russian coach continued to train prominent athletes and that the acting head of the national anti-doping agency had allowed an athlete to reschedule a supposedly no-notice test.
Separately, a key Russian whistleblower who helped to spark Russia's doping scandal, 800-meter runner Yulia Stepanova, is bidding to compete at the Olympics despite the Russian ban, the IAAF said.
Russia was suspended from global track and field by the IAAF in November following a damning report from a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) commission. The IAAF said the accusations made Sunday by ARD would be investigated by the taskforce monitoring Russia during its suspension.
''The taskforce will look carefully into the matters raised by the latest documentaries, including discussing them with representatives of RUSAF (the Russian track and field federation),'' the IAAF said in an e-mailed statement. Taskforce leader Rune Andersen was given advance access to related audio and video materials, the IAAF added.
An ARD documentary broadcast Sunday included footage which appeared to show a Russian coach, Vladimir Mokhnev, continuing to train leading Russian athletes despite being suspended from doing so by the IAAF. Documents from a national-level meet in February also listed him as the coach for some athletes who competed, ARD alleged.
Mokhnev was accused in a WADA commission's report in November of providing banned substances to athletes who trained with him, leading to his suspension. Mokhnev disputed the report, denying any wrongdoing.
Another Russian coach was accused Sunday of offering banned substances for sale, but it was not clear whether he had any links with elite-level Russian athletes.
ARD also claimed it had obtained audio recordings of conversations involving Anna Antseliovich, the acting head of the Russian anti-doping agency, RUSADA, which was suspended by WADA in November over accusations its staff covered up doping by top Russian athletes.
Antseliovich, while in an earlier role at RUSADA, allegedly told an unnamed athlete that she could reschedule a drug test. That would be a major breach of anti-doping rules, in which surprise testing is a key element.
Antseliovich is the successor to Nikita Kamaev, who ran RUSADA until his resignation in December. Kamaev, who had reportedly been planning to write a book about Russian doping, was found dead last month at the age of 52 following what RUSADA said was a heart attack.
WADA said it was also taking an interest in Sunday's film.
''WADA is aware of the ARD documentary to be aired later today and will watch the program with interest,'' spokesman Ben Nichols told The Associated Press in e-mailed comments.
''If there are matters to be pursued as a result, we will have no hesitation in doing so.''
A previous ARD documentary in December 2014 sparked the WADA commission investigation that found evidence of widespread, state-sponsored doping in Russia. Last November, the IAAF banned Russia from international track and field as a result.
Russia's sports minister, Vitaly Mutko, was critical of ARD ahead of Sunday's broadcast, saying Russia had reformed and that a new documentary seemed unnecessary.
''It's strange that these films continue,'' he told Russia's state Tass news agency. ''That leads to the thought that it's an attempt to exert influence on organizations which must take important decisions.''
Stepanova, whose undercover footage of athletes and coaches appearing to confess to doping led to the creation of the WADA commission, is aiming for a return to elite track and field in time for the Olympics.
She has applied ''to compete in Rio in a capacity other than as a Russian athlete,'' the IAAF said in a statement. ''The request will be considered. No decisions have been made.''
The International Olympic Committee has previously allowed stateless or refugee athletes to compete under the Olympic flag, but it was not clear whether Stepanova was seeking to do so.
Stepanova competed at European and world championships for Russia, and served a doping ban between 2013 and 2015, losing a European indoor bronze medal.
AP Sports Writer Ciaran Fahey in Berlin contributed to this report.