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IAAF keeps Russian athletics ban

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The head of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ Russian taskforce team, Rune Andersen, attends a press conference on Friday. AFP

IAAF keeps Russian athletics ban

The governing body of world athletics on Friday maintained Russia’s ban from track and field over mass doping, just 10 days before the start of the European Championships in Berlin.

“The IAAF Council unanimously adopted the resolution that [the Russian athletics federation] RUSAF not be reinstated at this time,” said Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF’s Russian taskforce team.

Andersen, however, said there had been “a lot of meaningful engagement from RUSAF”, which has made “significant improvement” in meeting reinstatement requirements.

“In some cases they have gone above and beyond what is required,” the Norwegian said before adding that the conclusion remained that RUSAF not be reinstated at this time with further progress still to be made.

Andersen said that for Russia to be reinstated, ideally at the IAAF Council’s next meeting in Monaco in December after a WADA meet in September, three demands must be met.

Firstly, RUSAF must pay for the costs incurred by the IAAF in the wake of the doping scandal, notably the establishment of the taskforce.

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency RUSADA must also be reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), with a key requirement being the acknowledgement by Moscow that ministry of sport officials orchestrated the doping of Russian athletes. And finally, Russian authorities must give access to doping tests carried out at RUSADA’s Moscow laboratory between 2011-15.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe added: “Progress has been made in key areas. There are still some gaps to be filled.

“We have brought about change and it’s change that is very viable. But we weren’t yet at that point where every element of that [reinstatement] criteria had been met.”

Russian athletics federation presdient Dmitry Shlyakhtin said he had been hoping for better news.

“We are disappointed by the decision taken today by the IAAF Council,” Shlyakhtin was quoted as saying by TASS news agency.

“I cannot hide that we were counting on a positive decision, on a partial restoration of the Russian athletics federation. Sadly, this hasn’t happened. We will continue, however, to work towards the restoration of the federation.”

Russia was accused in a WADA report in 2016 of widespread state-sponsored doping. Its athletics team was barred from that summer’s Rio Olympics and also missed the IAAF World Championships in London a year later.

A number of Russian athletes, however, have been granted permission by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to compete as neutrals after meeting the exceptional eligibility criteria, essentially demonstrating that they’ve come through transparent anti-doping testing.

Russia had also been banned from the Olympic movement over the doping scandal culminating at the 2014 Russian-hosted Sochi Winter Games.

A team of 168 Russians competed in this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games under the neutral banner of “Olympic Athletes from Russia”, although a Russian curling medallist tested positive for a banned substance.

The International Olympic Committee then lifted its ban on Russia at the end of the Pyeongchang Olympics.

IOC hits back

Meanwhile, the IOC on Thursday hit back at the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) after its chief accused the IOC of failing to hold Russia accountable for doping in sports.

In a rebuke directed at the CEO of USADA, Travis Tygart, the IOC chastised the US over its struggles in tackling doping in its domestic leagues and for refusing to join the international fight against corruption in sport.

Tygart had in testimony to a US agency that looks at human rights in Europe said that in allowing Russian athletes to take part in the Rio and Pyeongchang Olympic games, the IOC “chose not to stand up for clean athletes and against institutionalised doping”.

“We very much appreciate and welcome moves in the United States to step up the fight against doping and we assume that the very worrying existing challenges with some of the professional leagues in the United States will be addressed as a matter of urgency – especially since this has become extremely obvious again in the last report of USADA,” an IOC spokesman said in a statement sent to AFP.”

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