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Head of Russia’s anti-doping lab resigns

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Moscow: The head of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory resigned late yesterday, hours after his laboratory was suspended over accusations it was part of state-sponsored doping programme that experts fear could snowball into an international crisis for the sport.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has accused Grigory Rodchenkov of being at the heart of a scheme to cover up widespread use of illegal drugs among Russian athletes, including deliberately destroying positive test samples.

WADA suspended Moscow’s heavily criticised anti-doping laboratory on Tuesday, the day after releasing its explosive report accusing Russian athletics of corruption akin to that which plagued top-level sport in Communist East Germany in the 1970s and 80s.

“The acting director of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov announced his resignation,” an aide to Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko was quoted as saying by Interfax news agency.

“The minister accepted his resignation and one of the specialists at the laboratory was appointed in his place, Maria Dikunets,” Natalya Zhelanova said.

The crisis engulfing athletics, long viewed as the flagship of the Olympic Games, comes hot on the heels of a huge corruption scandal at world football’s top body FIFA and as cycling is still reeling from the Lance Armstrong doping scandal.

It has also seen the former president of the athletics governing body IAAF, who on Tuesday resigned as the head of a charitable sporting foundation, charged with corruption.

With fears growing the Russian athletics scandal could widen to include other countries, the IAAF is now considering suspending Russia and calls are growing for it to be banned from next year’s Olympic Games.