PARIS (AP) - A timeline of how internal IAAF documents reported by The Associated Press fit into Russia’s sports doping crisis:
-July 6, 2009: IAAF general secretary Pierre Weiss tells Russian athletics chief Valentin Balakhnichev of “the constant difficulties in testing” elite Russian athletes who will compete at the World Championships in Berlin the following month. Says athletes are telling the IAAF they’re serving in the military and can’t give their whereabouts. Weiss also alerts Balakhnichev that blood tests point to “a problem with many of your athletes, in particular in the race walking events.”
-July 14, 2009: IAAF anti-doping director Gabriel Dolle follows up with another letter to Balakhnichev with an attached “list of athletes with abnormal blood parameters.” He asks the Russian athletics federation president “to contact each athlete and inform them individually on their abnormal blood profile, sending them a strong and clear message which could ultimately be a deterrent.”
-July 15, 2009: Balakhnichev emails the IAAF to say he is contacting the athletes and coaches to deliver a “first and last strong warning.”
-August 2009: Russia wins 13 medals at the World Championships in Berlin, four of them gold, including three in race walking.
-Oct 14, 2009: In a hand-delivered letter to Balakhnichev, Weiss writes: “Of the top ten highest blood values recorded in Berlin, 8 of them came from Russian athletes.” Says the IAAF fears some Russian athletes “are putting their health and even their own lives in very serious danger.” Weiss adds that if athletics had had the same rules as other sports “seven of your Russian athletes would not have been allowed to start in Berlin,” including two gold medalists. He demands “immediate and drastic action.”
-2011: The IAAF’s by-then two-year-old “blood passport” testing program starts closing the net on world, Olympic and European champions, plus other second-tier Russian athletes. A list from the IAAF’s anti-doping department, dated Nov. 3, 2011, names 23 Russian athletes with “abnormal” blood profiles whose cases are at different stages in the pipeline toward possible sanctions. The note says the blood passport program has “revealed a very clear predominance of anomalies among Russian athletes” and is pointing to suspected doping in other countries, too.
-Dec. 5, 2011: With the 2012 London Olympics approaching, an internal note marked “IAAF confidential” proposes that Russian blood passport cases be divided into two groups. Well-known elite athletes likely to win medals in London would be disciplined “in strict conformity” with IAAF anti-doping rules. But the second group of lower-level athletes could be sanctioned in a “rapid and discreet” manner, working in “close collaboration” with Russia and without informing the public, it proposes. The note specifies that this would be contrary to usual IAAF practice. The IAAF later tells the AP this note was sent by Dolle to Habib Cisse, who was the legal counsel to IAAF President Lamine Diack.
-April 10, 2012: Another internal note on Russian blood passport cases, marked “STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL,” proposes that the sanctioned second-tier athletes should not be stripped of their competition results. It specifies that the IAAF would be breaking its own rules by doing this. “These measures concern athletes without titles or major results. Their withdrawal from competition wouldn’t necessarily attract attention,” it says. The IAAF later tells AP that Dolle sent this note to Diack.
-July-August, 2012: Russia wins 17 medals in track and field, second only to the United States, at the London Games, including eight golds.
-Sept. 28, 2012: An internal briefing paper for Diack includes a chart showing that 42 percent of elite Russian athletes who have been tested are believed - with 99 percent probability - to have doped. Turkey, Spain, Morocco and Ukraine also have “particularly worrying” suspected doping problems in distance and middle-distance events, it says.
-Dec. 3, 2014: German television documentary “Top Secret Doping: How Russia makes its Winners” alleges sophisticated, well-established system of state-sponsored doping and cover-ups in Russia. World Anti-Doping Agency quickly orders investigation.
-Early November, 2015: French authorities take Diack into custody. The former IAAF president, replaced in August by Sebastian Coe, is placed under criminal investigation on corruption and money-laundering charges, suspecting of taking more than 1 million euros (US$.1.1 million) in a blackmail and doping cover-up scheme. Also under investigation for suspected corruption are Cisse and Dolle.
-Nov. 9, 2015: WADA probe finds Russian government complicit in a “deeply rooted culture of cheating.”
-Nov. 13, 2015: In a 22-1 vote, IAAF council members ban Russia from international competition. “This has been a shameful wake-up call,” says Coe.
John Leicester is an international sports columnist for The Associated Press. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him at https://twitter.com/johnleicester and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/John-Leicester-Associated-Press-Sports-Columnist-579349882203298/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
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