Russia Institutes Broad Anti-Doping Education Campaign

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

A package of new measures has been introduced in Russia that will teach schoolchildren about anti-doping in the hopes of reducing the amount of cheating that is occurring in the nation's sports.

Doping scandals have increased throughout Russia in recent years. Most recently, allegations of state-sponsored doping that arose last year caused the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to ban track and field athletes who originated from Russia from competing.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency announced that six weightlifters, including former world and European junior champions, have been banned from competing for between two and eight years, while a judo fighter earned a ban of four years.

According to the agency, 2014 world junior champion Larisa Kobeleva is now banned for four years, while 2014 European junior champion Nadezhda Ovchinnikova received a two year suspension. Details were not released concerning the four other weightlifters, although they received bans between four and eight years each.

It is still unclear as to whether the suspension will be lifted in time for athletes from the country to compete in Rio de Janeiro for the summer Olympic games in August.

Russia's Ministry of Sport partnered with the Council of Europe in an announcement made earlier in the week discussing plans for the education of Russian professionals in sport and medicine on the value of sports. It went on to say that an emphasis would be placed on the importance of fair play and that doping is not acceptable.

Anti-doping lessons will be put into the school curriculum as part of the physical education classes for children in high schools, which will be a requirement for all students. Once students reach higher education, an anti-doping class will be added for those seeking degrees in the fields of sport and medicine.

Extra training will also be provided for doctors and other medical personnel, coaches, and employees of sport federations.

Additional plans have been made for the anti-doping agency RUSADA to create a specialized curriculum based on the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) guidelines to be used in all 3,000 sports schools where elite athletes in the country go to train.

Natalya Zhelanova, anti-doping adviser to the minister of sport, said: "We are working tirelessly to ensure that sport in our country is clean and fair, and educating the next generation of athletes is essential to spreading the clean sport message. We recognise that to create real change we must inform athletes from the very beginning of their careers. It is about instilling the right values from the outset, but we hope this initiative will be supported by wider society as this is a change that all Russians must embrace."

The IAAF is set to meet on June 17 to make a final decision concerning whether to reinstate the Russian federation before the summer Olympics begin. It was noted last month that Russia would not be allowed to enter athletes who had previously committed "gross violations of anti-doping rules" on its Olympic team.

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