Inspection team looking into anti-doping reforms programme in Russia due to report back to the IAAF on March 27 “at the earliest”

Russia looks set to remain suspended by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) until at least late March after the sport’s world governing body announced that its inspection team could report back on March 27, 2016, “at the earliest”.

That would mean that Russian athletes would miss the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon, which takes place from March 17-20.

Last Friday it was confirmed that the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) had been provisionally suspended as an IAAF Member with immediate effect. IAAF Council members voted 22-1 in favour of Russia being provisionally suspended. That council meeting followed a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission report detailed findings including a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russian athletics.

A five-strong inspection team which will work to verify the reforms programme in Russia to enable the ARAF to gain reacceptance for IAAF membership was announced on Tuesday. Chair Rune Andersen will be joined by IAAF Council members Abby Hoffman, Anna Riccardi, Frank Fredericks and Geoff Gardner on the team.

Principles upon which the ARAF inspection criteria will be based was announced by the IAAF on Thursday. The proposed verification criteria is set to be presented to the IAAF Council for discussion in Monaco on November 26.

“It is planned that the inspection team mission will commence the verification process no later than 1 January 2016 with a first report back at the earliest to the IAAF Council at their meeting in Cardiff on 27 March 2016,” read an IAAF statement in part.

IAAF president Seb Coe commented: “The verification criteria must be robust otherwise the inspection process will fail. Repeating past failings which have brought ARAF to their current position is not an option.

“To succeed this process must guarantee a level playing field and thereby re-establish confidence in the integrity of competition.”

The principles by which the verification criteria is being drawn-up can be found listed here.

“For the protection of all clean athletes there cannot be any timeframe for ARAF’s return until we are assured all criteria have been fully met and will continue to be met forever,” added Coe.

On Wednesday it was announced that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) is among six National Anti-Doping Organisations deemed “non-compliant” by WADA.