Seb Coe: “This has been a shameful wake up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated”
The All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) has been provisionally suspended as an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Member with immediate effect, the sport’s world governing body announced on Friday.
The decision means that athletes from Russia may not compete in international competitions, while Russia will also not be entitled to host the 2016 World Race Walking Cup which had been due to take place in Cheboksary or the 2016 World Junior Championships which had been set for Kazan.
IAAF Council members voted 22-1 in favour of Russia being provisionally suspended, with the Council member from Russia, Mikhail Butov, not having been eligible to participate in the vote.
“Today we have been dealing with the failure of ARAF and made the decision to provisionally suspend them, the toughest sanction we can apply at this time,” said IAAF president Seb Coe. “But we discussed and agreed that the whole system has failed the athletes, not just in Russia, but around the world.
“This has been a shameful wake up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated. To this end, the IAAF, WADA, the member federations and athletes need to look closely at ourselves, our cultures and our processes to identify where failures exist and be tough in our determination to fix them and rebuild trust in our sport.
“There can be no more important focus for our sport.”
The IAAF Council meeting comes after a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission report published on Monday detailed findings including a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russian athletics.
The Independent Commission, which is chaired by WADA’s founding president Dick Pound, was formed after the broadcast of an ARD documentary – ‘Top-secret doping: How Russia makes its winners’ – in December 2014.
Unless the Russian athletics federation voluntarily accepts a full suspension, the IAAF is entitled to proceed to a full hearing on whether the provisional suspension should become a full suspension.
The world governing body advises that to regain membership to the IAAF, the new federation would need to fulfil a list of criteria. An inspection team led by independent chair Rune Andersen, a Norwegian anti-doping expert, is to be appointed in the next few days.
The IAAF confirmed that while the provisional suspension prevents Russian athletes from competing in international competitions, which would include World Athletic Series events and the Olympic Games, it does not prevent athletes in Russia from participating in domestic competitions.
Events taking place in the next few months include the European Cross Country Championships in December and the World Indoor Championships in March.
The provisional suspension also does not remove or waive the obligations on international level athletes in Russia to comply with the IAAF anti-doping rules, including continuing to be subject to out of competition testing.
Reading a statement on behalf of the IAAF Athletes Commission, Frankie Fredericks said: “The IAAF Athletes’ Commission is extremely disappointed and concerned regarding the recent developments and allegations directed at our sport.
“We are angry at the damage being caused to the reputation and credibility of athletics and are united alongside our president to not shy away from the major challenges that face our sport. The athletes will work together to continue the process of cleaning up athletics to ensure those athletes training and competing cleanly are not tainted by the minority.
“We send a clear message to clean athletes in a dirty system to report any doping or cheating that they see or hear about. We are 100% in support of president Coe and believe that he is the leader that our sport needs to instigate the necessary actions swiftly and strongly.”
In other business, Coe took the IAAF Council through his reform programme, with Paul Deighton, the former CEO of the London 2012 organising committee, set to oversee the reform.
Following the announcement of the IAAF decision, WADA confirmed that it has initiated the process to assess the compliance of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA). The result of this is set to be considered by WADA’s Foundation Board on November 18.
This follows WADA’s suspension of the Moscow Antidoping Center’s accreditation earlier this week.
“WADA has acted quickly and firmly to the key recommendations outlined in the Independent Commission’s report,” said WADA president Craig Reedie. “These are all necessary and powerful actions that will effect positive change for clean sport. We recognize however that this is just the tip of the iceberg and that, to truly tackle the scourge of doping, the anti-doping community must further improve the approach that has been employed to date; and, above all, the resources that are attributed to it.”
Meanwhile, the BBC has reported that the immediate establishment of an anti-doping agency has been approved by Kenya’s government.
According to the BBC, a statement said that the new agency will carry out testing and ensure compliance with doping rules.