Russian athletics federation remains suspended by IAAF

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IAAF president Seb Coe says world governing body will continue to rely on its own taskforce and roadmap for reinstatement “until we are satisfied that the conditions have been met”

International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president Seb Coe (pictured) says the Russian athletics federation (RusAF) will be considered for reinstatement as an IAAF member only once the world governing body is satisfied that any outstanding conditions have been met.

The IAAF’s confirmation on its stance came as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced its controversial decision to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) as compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code.

RUSADA had been suspended for almost three years following allegations of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.

The Russian athletics federation has also been suspended as an IAAF member since November 2015, although some Russian athletes have since been allowed to compete internationally as authorised neutral athletes.

WADA’s decision to reinstate RUSADA has been met with a wave of criticism across the sporting world, with United States Anti-Doping Agency chief executive Travis Tygart describing it as “a devastating blow to the world’s clean athletes”.

Nine members of WADA’s executive committee are said to have voted in favour of the agency’s compliance review committee recommendation to reinstate RUSADA “subject to strict conditions”, while two (WADA’s vice-president Linda Helleland and Oceania representative Clayton Cosgrove) voted against and one (Europe) abstained.

Outstanding criteria which Russia had been required to meet included public acceptance of the reported outcomes of the McLaren Investigation, and access for appropriate entities to the stored samples and electronic data in the former Moscow Laboratory.

WADA president Sir Craig Reedie added that RUSADA could again be declared non-compliant if they do not follow a “clear timeline” regarding gaining access to the former Moscow laboratory data and samples.

On Thursday the IAAF also highlighted its own set of criteria, which will now be reviewed following WADA’s decision, before the IAAF independent taskforce, chaired by Rune Andersen, presents its next recommendation to the IAAF council at the beginning of December.

“It is then for council to discuss and decide any actions,” read an IAAF statement in part.

“The reinstatement of RUSADA was one of three pre-conditions set out in the IAAF taskforce’s recommendations to the July council meeting. The other two pre-conditions agreed by the council are:

  • The Russian authorities must acknowledge the findings of the McLaren and Schmid Commissions that Ministry of Sport officials were implicated in the scheme to cover up the doping of Russian athletes as described in their reports; and
  • The Russian authorities must provide access to the data from testing of samples at the Moscow lab from 2011 to 2015, so that the Athletics Integrity Unit can determine whether the suspicious findings reported in the Moscow lab’s LIMS database should be pursued.”

Coe said: “These two pre-conditions and any other outstanding conditions which are required for RusAF’s reinstatement will need to be discussed by the taskforce before any recommendation is put to the council.

“The setting of our own criteria and the process of evaluating progress against these criteria has served the sport of athletics well over the last three years so we will continue to rely on the taskforce and our clear roadmap for RusAF reinstatement until we are satisfied that the conditions have been met.”

Should reinstatement not be granted in December, AW understands that next summer could be a more realistic timeframe, ahead of the IAAF World Championships taking place in Doha in 12 months’ time.

Prior to the announcement of WADA’s decision, the IAAF Athletes’ Commission, chaired by Inaki Gomez, had urged the agency to vote against the recommendation of the compliance review committee to reinstate RUSADA.

Following confirmation of reinstatement, Gomez wrote on Twitter: “Not surprising… yet, to say I’m disappointed is an huge understatement. I stand by my comments: ‘the reinstatement of RUSADA, given the softening of the demand that Russia accept the findings of the McLaren Report, will tarnish WADA’s reputation and bring sport into disrepute’.”

UK Sport also released a statement on Thursday which said: “We are disappointed in the decision taken by the WADA Executive Committee. We call on WADA to fully and transparently explain how it came to the compromise of reinstating Russia – and how it will ensure that the new conditions are fully met and implemented.

“A strong WADA and a unified anti-doping community are vital to the integrity of sport and to ensure public trust and support is maintained.”

Nicole Sapstead, the UK Anti-Doping chief executive, described the outcome of the WADA meeting as “deeply troubling for clean sport”.

“WADA has cast aside its responsibilities to clean athletes, sports fans and those who work tirelessly for clean sport,” she added.

(Athletics Weekly)