THE world athletics body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, has long been at the forefront of anti-doping in sport, yet their president, Lamine Diack, was obliged this week to concede that the governing body was in "a difficult crisis" over the number of Russian offenders.

The president of the Russian Athletics Federation, Valentin Balakhnichev, yesterday stepped down, yet there was no admission of guilt - just a swipe at the IAAF, saying they were "unfair" to have tested 90 Russian sportsmen and just nine from Britain during the same period.

Of 37 athletes sanctioned since the introduction of biological passports, 23 are Russian - most recently five walkers: three Olympic champions and World gold and silver medallists. Dozens more are currently serving suspensions, making Russia one of the worst offenders worldwide.

Russian bullying and posturing, as characterised by Balakhnichev yesterday, seems part of the national psyche - a microcosm of Putin's behaviour in Ukraine. Cheat in international relations - cheat in sport. This is a country without moral integrity at every level, from the top down. And there is certainly no public condemnation in Russia of returning drug cheats. The culture of doping is so all pervading that the World Anti-Doping Agency has launched an investigation into all sport.

A recent German TV documentary implicated several coaches and high-profile competitors including 2012 Olympic 800m champion Mariya Savinova and multiple marathon winner Liliya Shobukhova. The programme claimed 99% of Russian Olympians were doping, and that coaches were paid to provide drugs.

Balakhnichev says this is "a pack of lies".

I put it to the IAAF that Russia should be excluded from world athletics until they clean up their act. They say they are investigating the TV allegations "but can't jump to conclusions", and that they do not wish to compromise WADA's investigations.

The more this goes on without tough action, the worse doping will become. Athletics risks being destroyed.

Exclusion from sport is an option for the IAAF and Olympic movement. They should exercise it before it is too late.