There is no "systemic corruption" within the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the governing body claimed today as they prepared to face more allegations with the publication later this week of the second part of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission report.
The IAAF claim that the cover-ups of doping failures were carried out only by a small minority of figures which contrast with the commitment of the "dedicated" majority.
The defence by the IAAF is contained within a 30-page document, sent to WADA on Friday (January 8) and to insidethegames today.
It is the IAAF's first detailed response to the WADA Independent Commission report published last November.
As well as allegations of sytemic and state-supported doping within Russian athletics, it was claimed that the IAAF may have delayed the outcome of up to eight cases and suffered from "systemic failures...that prevent or diminish the possibility of an effective anti-doping programme".
Former IAAF President Lamine Diack has since been arrested as part of a French police investigation amid allegations he was involved in an extortion plot in which money was accepted in return for tests involving Russian athletes being covered up.
Consultant Papa Massata Diack, the son of Diack, was banned for life from the sport by the IAAF Ethics Commission last week for his role in the plot.
Former IAAF treasurer and All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) President Valentin Balakhnichev was also banned, along with long distance running and race-walking coach Alexei Melnikov.
The report, which begins with a two-page executive summary, does not hold back in its criticism of those already sanctioned, and makes clear that they are not seeking to downplay in any way the "truly abhorrent" allegations.
The IAAF claim that "no doping case has been covered up by the IAAF" and that only four of the eight alleged cases based on suspicious athlete biological passport (APB) readings were delayed in "unexplained and highly suspicious" ways.
These concerned marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova, the 2010 London Marathon winner and three-time Chicago Marathon champion, who reportedly paid approximately £435,000 ($634,000/€583,000) to cover-up doping violations.
The other cases include two Olympic gold medallists from Beijing 2008, race walkers Valeriy Borchin and Olga Kaniskina, winners of the men and women's 20 kilometres walks respectively.
The third involves Vladimir Kanaykin, the 2011 World Championship silver medallist, who is now banned from the sport for life.
The trio also made payments which resulted in delays, the IAAF rule in agreement with WADA.
The other cases include race-walker Vladimir Kanaykin, the Olympic 20 kilometres gold medallist Valery Borchin and Olga Kaniskina, the Beijing 2008 20km winner and London 2012 silver medallist, also made payments which resulted in delays, the IAAF rule in agreement with WADA.
The IAAF claim the delays ranged between only three and six months only from June 2012 to between September and December 2012 before the athletes were provisionally suspended or withdrawn from competition.
The IAAF claim that two unnamed employees had raised concerns to Diack about delays in the process to sanction the athletes and that their work resulted in the process being sped up.
The employees are believed to be Huw Roberts, recently appointed by new IAAF President Sebastian Coe to be the organisation’s senior legal counsel.
The other is thought to be Thomas Capdevielle, an IAAF doping official who accompanied Coe when he appeared before Britain's Parliament in London last November.
IAAF distance-running official Sean Wallace-Jones is also believed to have raised the issue with Diack personally.
The IAAF claim that the four other athletes mentioned by WADA, including the case of London 2012 50km champion Sergey Kirdyapkin, were not affected by any payments, with their being no legal way for the process to have been completed quicker.
Kirdyapkin has not been stripped of his Olympic gold because he was given a three-year ban by the Russian Anti-Doping Agency starting in October 2012, which means it did not affect his performance in London.
The IAAF have appealed appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport for this to be reassessed, including disqualifying him from London 2012.
Also mentioned by the IAAF in its response is Turkish athlete Asli Ҫakir-Alptekin, winner of the 1500m gold in London before being disqualified and banned from the sport for a second doping failure based on her ABP.
The IAAF regarded her APB readings as suspicious before the Olympics, it is claimed, but did not have full evidence to suspend her beforehand due to the findings being "inconclusive".
There enough time for full analysis before London 2012, they claim.
"These allegations of corruption by individuals formerly associated with the IAAF are truly abhorrent, and the IAAF cannot, and does not, seek to avoid or downplay them in any way," the IAAF claim in the report sent to WADA.
"The IAAF wishes to salute the courage of the whistle-blowers (including its own staff members) who have helped to expose the wrongdoing described in the IC Report.
"It will do everything in its power to punish the wrongdoers and to reform its own systems to make sure that no one can ever again interfere improperly with its anti-doping procedures."
The report is unlikely to convince the many who are sceptical about the IAAF but does reiterate how all the cases mentioned first arose due to IAAF testing,.
The governing body also point to the 76 Russian athletes have been sanctioned thanks to their anti-doping programme, including 33 through APB findings, as to how serious they take the problem of doping in the sport.
The publication of the IAAF statement comes ahead of the second part of the WADA Independent Commission Report being published in Munich on Thursday (January 14).
The IAAF Task Force and Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko are also due today to discuss the process to lift the world's largest country's suspension from athletics ahead of this year's Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
The IAAF report concludes: "As demonstrated above, there is no systemic corruption within the IAAF, but rather a dedicated staff with high ethical standards whose work has contributed greatly to the fight against doping in sport not only in athletics specifically, but also (through the support and assistance that the IAAF Medical & Anti-Doping Department has provided to WADA over the years) in the whole of sport generally.
"Stakeholders in athletics can therefore have confidence that the IAAF will continue to do, as it has done for the last 50 years, whatever is necessary to protect the integrity of the sport from the scourge of doping."
The full IAAF response can be read by clicking IAAF response to WADA IC Report.pdf