CAS slaps life ban on Russian doping 'mastermind'

Doping has cast a dark shadow over athletics in recent years, with the Russian athletics team banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics following an investigation into a state-sponsored doping programme

The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said Monday it had issued a life ban against doctor Sergei Portugalov, an alleged mastermind of state-sponsored doping in Russian track and field.

The Lausanne-based court said in a statement it had slapped Portugalov with a "lifetime period of ineligibility" beginning March 10, 2017, for having supplied athletes with banned substances.

CAS said that Portugalov, who had served as the head of the Russian athletics federation's medical commission, had been found to have violated several articles of the IAAF anti-doping regulations, including the possession, trafficking and administration of prohibited substances.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) had recommended in a 2015 report that Portugalov take no part in any state sports programme after it found he had been key to rampant doping among Russian track and field athletes.

WADA said Portugalov was "very active in the conspiracy to cover up athletes' positive tests in exchange for a percentage of their winnings."

The agency said that Portugalov administered the doping programmes and "even injected athletes himself."

Russia has been barred from international track and field competition, including the Rio Olympics, since November 2015 following the damning WADA report presenting evidence of state-sponsored doping in the sport.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the world governing body of athletics, last month cleared three Russians -- pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova, sprinter Kristina Sivkova and Aleksei Sokirskii -- to compete internationally under a neutral flag.

The IAAF said that the trio had met the "exceptional eligibility criteria" it had established for Russians to compete on the international stage.

Russian authorities have recognised the existence of doping in sport but vehemently deny any state complicity in athletes' use of performance enhancing drugs.