Berlin: Germany`s member of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) council claimed Friday that doping is common in the world`s top sports nations and is not just an issue for Russia.
A documentary by German state broadcaster ARD on Wednesday made serious allegations of doping in Russian athletics, pointing the finger at Russian Athletics Federation president and IAAF treasurer Valentin Balakhnichev plus Russia`s anti-doping agency RUSADA.
RUSADA announced on Friday it has opened its investigation into the allegations, a day after the IAAF`s Ethics Commission launched its own investigation.
But IAAF council member Helmut Digel says Russia should not be considered an isolated case.
"Physicians and pharmacists operate like criminals and organise, guide and support this fraud at international sporting events," Digel told Frankfurt-based newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
"The athletes are privy to it and ultimately they are the offenders.
"The certainly doesn`t just happen in Russia. This occurs in almost every high-performance sports nation in the world."
Digel, the former president of the German Athletics Federation (DLV), had no qualms with pointing the finger at his own country.
"The participation of irresponsible doctors in a doping fraud in Germany is well known," he said, referring to the dismissal of two doctors from Freiburg`s University Clinic in 2007 after they admitted being involved in the doping of the Telekom cycling team up until 1999.
In the face of the allegations, Digel says the IAAF must fully address the allegations against Russia, who could be subjected to heavy sanctions.
"Thankfully, we decided last year to set up an independent ethics commission," he said.
"If the committee recommends it, members and their presidents can be suspended and federations can be banned."