Athletics’ world governing body says Russia still has “significant work” to do if the nation’s athletes are to be allowed to compete at the Rio Olympics
Russian athletes remain banned from international competition, with an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) taskforce ruling that the nation still has “significant work” to do before it can be reinstated as an IAAF member.
The decision of the taskforce was announced at the 203rd IAAF Council meeting in Monaco, which was chaired by IAAF president Seb Coe. The meeting focused on the IAAF reform process to restore trust in both the organisation and the integrity of competition and included an update from the IAAF taskforce, chaired by Norwegian anti-doping expert Rune Andersen, concerning Russia’s progress towards meeting the set reinstatement conditions.
Russian athletes have been banned from all international competition since last November. The decision to suspend the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) as an IAAF Member came after the publication of a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission report which detailed findings including a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russian athletics.
The country has now been given until May to prove that it has put in place sufficient reforms to its anti-doping procedures.
Andersen stated that the Russian federation had made “considerable progress”, but that it had yet to convince the taskforce of its suitability for international reinstatement.
“The view of the taskforce is that there is significant work still to be done to satisfy reinstatement conditions,” Andersen said.
The Norwegian stressed the importance of an underpinning “change of culture” in Russia regarding anti-doping, but warned that it could take “years” before a genuine cultural shift is felt.
He also expressed his concerns about a recent documentary from German broadcasters ARD/WDR which appeared to show a series of continued breaches of the WADA Code.
Prior to the IAAF Council meeting a number of current and former athletes, including marathon world record-holder Paula Radcliffe, had been among those to add their names to a petition urging the IAAF to demand the repayment of prize money and appearance fees from Russian athletes before the country’s reinstatement.
On Friday the IAAF also announced that five countries – Ethiopia, Morocco, Belarus, Kenya and Ukraine – were being monitored and are in a state of “critical care” with regards to their anti-doping structures. Coe did, however, confirm that none of the five nations are under threat of international suspension.
“The IAAF is taking control of the fight against doping facing the sport, discussing the issues openly and working with the affected countries to resolve them,” said the IAAF president.
“No sanctions have been imposed but clear recommendations have been made to those five countries so they understand clearly the actions they must take.”
Meanwhile, Russian whistleblower Yuliya Stepanova was also offered hope that she may be given the opportunity to compete under the Olympic flag in Rio after Coe confirmed that the IAAF Council had requested the taskforce look into the matter.
Stepanova was one of the first athletes to speak out about Russian doping in a documentary in December 2014. Coe confirmed that he would meet with Stepanova and her husband, Vitaliy Stepanov, who are both now in hiding through fear of repercussions, at a suitable moment and that Andersen had also reached out to them.