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Former WADA chief says doping allegations make Russian participation at Rio 'difficult'

Dick Pound, former president of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) who was in charge of the organization's Independent Commission that accused Russia of state-sponsored doping, told the Mainichi Shimbun that new allegations could stand in the way of Russia making an appearance at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

    "I think every new revelation about systematic cheating in Russia makes it very difficult for the Russians (to go to the Rio Games,)" Pound wrote in an email interview.

    The Canadian-born Pound became vice-president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and he continues to be a member of that organization. He was the first president of WADA.

    Following the investigation report by the Independent Commission that accused Russia of doping, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) provisionally suspended the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) from competing in international competitions. On June 17, the IAAF is to decide at a meeting of its executive board whether to lift a ban on Russia's participation in the Rio Olympics.

    Last month the New York Times reported that the director of a laboratory that tested athletes for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics says he provided Russian athletes with banned substances. WADA has begun investigating this and is to report its findings as soon as July. Furthermore, in retests by the IOC, 14 Russian athletes in three events at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and eight Russian athletes in three events at the 2012 London Olympics tested positive for doping.

    IOC President Thomas Bach, who had shown his anticipation that Russia would make improvements to its anti-doping measures, said at a press conference on June 3 after the new allegations that he could not predict whether or not Russia would participate at Rio. Pound wrote of the decision on Russia's participation, "The matter is in the hands of President Bach and the IOC Executive Board. I believe they are waiting for the IAAF decision and the results of the new investigation before deciding."

    Russia, meanwhile, is protesting its shutout from the IAAF. If Russia is not allowed to participate in the Rio Games, it will be the first such crisis since the United States, Japan and other Western-aligned countries boycotted the 1980 Moscow Olympics in protest at the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan, and the retaliatory boycott of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics by the Soviet Union and Eastern-aligned nations.

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