Following revelations of widespread doping among Russian athletes — allegations made by the World Anti-Doping Agency in November — the future of Russia’s participation in major sporting events hangs in the balance. The head of the European Athletics organization said Tuesday he does not expect Russian athletes to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) inspection committee is scheduled to visit Russia in January to see how the country is reforming its sports practices to meet international standards. The results from the visit are expected in March, only five months before the start of the Summer Games.
“For the moment they have to fulfill the conditions, but I cannot really see them competing in Rio,” said European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen, Reuters reported. “They must have a cultural change. They must get rid of all those people from before.”
Russia has promised to fully cooperate with the inspection team, but the Kremlin has also rejected the accusations made in the report. Hansen said Russia would “have to really, really put a lot of effort in to compete in Rio.”
The 323-page report published by the World Anti-Doping Agency in November revealed a culture of doping and the use of performance-enhancing drugs among track-and-field athletes that was sanctioned by coaches, doctors and government officials. The IAAF voted in November to indefinitely suspend Russia from participating in track-and-field events.
“I am confident that Russian athletes who are honest and clean, who never used doping, who undergo various checks — no one has the right to strip them of the opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games,” Russian President Vladimir Putin said in November.
Russia was the third-most successful country at the last Summer Olympics, held in London in 2012, winning 82 medals. Following the revelation of drug use, Russia lost its hosting privileges for the 2016 World Race Walking Cup.