Five senior Russian Athletics officials have been banned after an extraordinary conspiracy to protect a world champion high jumper from a doping ban was unearthed by the Athletics Integrity Unit. The plot involved faking medical records from a non-existent clinic and a fabricated car accident.
The AIU uncovered it during a 15-month investigation involving 22 witnesses, 7,000 documents and numerous deleted WhatsApp and voicemail messages, after the reigning world indoor champion, Danil Lysenko, had three whereabouts failures in the spring of 2018.
The AIU discovered Lysenko had not only lied about a car accident he claimed had caused him to miss a test, but that Russian Athletics officials had faked medical records – using fake doctors, fake hospitals and an address on the site of a demolished building – in order to try to escape a two-year doping sanction.
Dmitry Shlyakhtin, a former president of the Russian Athletics Federation (Rusaf), and the organisation’s executive director, Alexander Parkin, were among five top officials banned for between four and six years. Lysenko faces a ban of up to eight years.
The disciplinary panel said: “These are offences of the utmost seriousness committed by persons right at the top of Rusaf, a World Athletics federation. It appears that most, if not all, of the senior management of Rusaf was involved in this major fraud. This is quite shocking. In the panel’s view, a sanction of four years can be described as grossly inadequate on the facts of this case.”
The Lysenko case is the latest in a series of Russian doping scandals since 2014 when it emerged massive state-sponsored doping was taking place in athletics. Since then it has also been revealed that Russia swapped athletes’ samples through a hole at the 2014 Winter Olympics, while a report by Richard McLaren said that more than 1,000 Russians athletes from more than 30 sports were involved in a doping programme.
The AIU has banned more than 200 athletes and officials for doping offences since 2017. Brett Clothier, the head of the organisation, said: “This case demonstrates the investigative capability of the AIU. The AIU has strong investigative powers, skilled investigators and prosecutors and the resources required to uncover wrongdoing in the face of conspiracies and lies, in any part of the world and at the highest levels of the sport.”