VTB Bank - the company at the centre of a major controversy involving the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) - will continue as a sponsor of gymnastics in 2016, it has been announced today.
Russia's largest bank have been a supporter of the sport since 2009 and have now moved to extend their relationship with the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG).
It comes following a row after the WADA Independent Commission’s second report into corruption in athletics, which called into question VTB's relationship with the IAAF.
The Bank is pursuing legal action after claims involving a $25 million (£17.5 million/€23 million) payment and suspicions that the money was used to help cover up positive doping cases involving Russian athletes.
The gymnastics deal is perhaps not a surprise as first deputy chairman of VTB Vasily Titov is also vice-president of FIG.
Titov signed the latest agreement during a meeting with FIG President Bruno Grandi at the governing body’s headquarters in Lausanne.
"VTB has the pleasure of once more renewing our sponsorship with the FIG and thereby supporting gymnastics, one of the three major Olympic sports," said Titov.
"We are very happy to be able to contribute to the development of this beautiful sport around the world."
A donation of $1 million (£700,000/€920,000) has been included as part of the contract, of which a large portion will be used as developmental funds for continental unions, it is claimed.
"As I begin my final year as head of the FIG, I am delighted to see our loyal partner confirm its support," Grandi said.
"This contribution is targeted toward the development of sport on all five continents, which is excellent news for our continental unions."
According to the WADA report, the $25 million payment from VTB was made in 2012 following a meeting between officials including Papa Massata Diack, the son of former IAAF President Lamine Diack, as well as All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) President Valentin Balaknichev and an unnamed Russian television advisor.
The sponsorship deal was reportedly struck because Lamine Diack was unhappy that Russian television had paid only $6 million (£4.2 million/€5.5 million) to screen the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow.
Allegations of state-sponsored doping, corruption and cover-ups have been rocking Russian athletics, and Papa Massata Diack and Balaknichev have since been banned from the sport for life for their role in a blackmail plot.
Following the report’s publication, VTB Bank’s head Andrey Kostin claimed they were considering launching a legal challenge against 10 WADA officials, including the Independent Commission's chairman Richard Pound, a Canadian lawyer.
The bank announced last November, however, that they were not extending their sponsorship with the IAAF.
This came shortly after the publication of the first WADA Independent Commission report which led to the suspension of Russia by the IAAF.
They claimed they simply decided not to renew their sponsorship agreement at the end of the year.