The view from Moscow: Why Russia will take legal action if its athletes aren't allowed to go to Rio

Russian athletics has been at the centre of the doping scandal. Credit: Reuters

You can almost forgive the weariness in his voice; spending your waking hours defending Russian Athletics cannot be much fun these days.

But there is a streak of determination too, despite an admission that Russia had made many mistakes and that the “extreme culture” of doping was so entrenched it was not possible to change it within in a few months.

“We had a system that not only allowed it to happen but we had a system that did not stop it, " the Russian source says, adding that is what they are trying to change now. He believes the IAAF understands that and the scale of the challenge.

As the country strives to prove it deserves to be on the starting blocks in Rio, the most recent developments regarding Sochi he said were “not helpful”.

The Russian national flag (R) and the Olympic flag are seen during the closing ceremony for Sochi 2014. Credit: Reuters

That is some understatement.

However, key to being reinstated is not Russia’s previous convictions, which are shocking and many, but how it has reacted to Dick Pound’s damning investigation, published in November, which led to Russian athletes’ indefinite international ban in the first place.

Dick Pound chaired the World Anti-Doping Agency's independent commission into doping Credit: Reuters

A task force is monitoring the progress and will report its findings next month and that is when the IAAF will decide whether the Russians are in or out. Early signs are not good, with the UK Anti-Doping agency considering quitting the role it was given in assisting Russia, given the problems it has faced trying to operate in the country.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country is also investigating alleged doping. Credit: Reuters

But that is not the full picture. Roll in a whole lot of geo-sized politics and you start to see a much bigger picture. President Vladimir Putin is not a man who enjoys being publicly humiliated.

Also, what are the ramifications if Russia is told it can’t turn up in Rio? “We will use all legal methods” to ensure clean Russian athletes can compete in Brazil, says my source in Moscow.

But what of the reaction if they’re welcomed back in? Whichever way the IAAF turns, the fallout will be explosive.