Athletics New Zealand will support the proposed banning of Russia from the 2016 Rio Olympics if damning evidence from within a World Anti-Doping Agency report is proven correct.
Chief executive Linda Hamersley said Athletics New Zealand were reserving judgement on the matter until Russian athletics officials respond to claims within a WADA report released today, of bribery, government-backed corruption, doping, and the hiding of positive tests to let cheaters compete at the 2012 London Olympics.
"It's quite sad. If you take it at face value, everything that I've read so far in the report from the independent commission is quite damning, but my understanding is this still has to be proven," Hamersley said.
"Depending on what Russia reports back to the International Association of Athletics Federation at the end of the week, we would certainly support the possibility of banning, if that's what is going to be needed to have the systematic doping eradicated."
WADA director general David Howman today confirmed some Russian athletes implicated in the report for doping competed and won medals at the London Olympics.
Hamersley could not speculate as to whether any of the suspected cheats had prevented any New Zealand athletes from claiming a podium finish.
"I need to have the in-depth discussion with the high performance partners on that," she said. "There's always the possibility that athletes are going to be duped out of medals.
"It's really disappointing with the level of what's been reported, so you could look at it and say there's probably a higher probability that has happened, then perhaps say in 2008.
"The most important thing though, is to look at what we can do as a sport collaboratively, to make sure that we go on to Rio and Tokyo (2020) without this cloud over our heads."
Hamersley was optimistic about the effectiveness of anti-doping measures at the Olympics, but believes the report has highlighted how WADA needs to improve their systems internationally to detect countries affected by cheating and corruption.
"We would like to ensure change for the future," she said. "That's what we need to do, is make sure that WADA has systems in place that they can actually verify that the information coming out of those countries is correct."
She is confident New Zealand athletics remains unaffected by doping or corruption and believes sufficient measures are in place to ensure Kiwi athletes are clean competitors.
"I believe that Drug Free Sport New Zealand (DFSNZ) operate effectively. Our athletes are tested in and out of competition.
"We've got athletes in the Registered Testing Pool and National Testing Pool register and I'm fully confident that DFSNZ look after the sport well here."
WADA's senior media relations staffer, Ben Nichols, praised New Zealand's tough stance on anti-doping.
"They have a good anti-doping organisation in place, they have compliance rules and they practice those rules effectively," said Nichols.
"They've always been a good partner so to our knowledge they are a committed partner in the anti-doping world."