March 11, 2019 / 10:53 AM / a month ago

IAAF maintains ban on Russian athletics over doping scandal

DOHA (Reuters) - World athletics governing body IAAF has decided not to lift a ban on Russia’s athletics federation over doping, saying on Monday it was still waiting to receive data collected from Moscow and financial compensation for its investigations.

FILE PHOTO - A man casts his shadow following a press conference by Sebastian Coe, IAAF's President, as part of the 203nd International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) council meeting in Monaco, March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard/File Photo

Russia’s athletics federation (RUSAF) has been suspended since 2015 following a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that found evidence of widespread doping in the sport.

The IAAF’s governing council discussed the possibility of lifting the ban at a meeting in Doha on Sunday and Monday.

But Rune Andersen, chair of the IAAF’s Russia Taskforce, said Moscow had yet to meet two conditions.

“Logistical” issues had held up financial compensation, including for the taskforce’s costs and legal costs in cases Russia had brought to the courts, he said, adding that the IAAF had also not yet received analytical data and samples from a Moscow lab, which are still being assessed by WADA.

“Those (issues) need to be resolved. As soon as we have everything we need... we will seriously reconsider and recommend to the IAAF council for reinstatement (of Russia),” Andersen said.

Should it fail to meet IAAF conditions, Russia could risk sending a team to September’s world athletics championships in Doha, Qatar.

Individual Russian athletes would be allowed to compete as neutrals as they have since 2015 provided they meet certain criteria that showed they had operated in a dope-free environment.

SEEKING FUNDS

Russian officials and IAAF president Sebastian Coe said Russia owes the governing body about $3 million and discussions were continuing.

“Of course, we have worked and are working to finding sources of funding to pay the debt,” Dmitry Shlyakhtin, president of Russia’s athletics federation, said in a statement.

“This is quite an ample sum for the federation. Let’s not forget that the federation lost sponsors in connection with the doping scandal. You cannot call the federation’s financial situation simple. In parallel we are in talks with the IAAF regarding payments.”

Russia’s sports ministry did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.

Russian authorities have denied their doping programme was state-sponsored but have accepted that senior officials were involved in providing banned substances to athletes, interfering with anti-doping procedures or covering up positive tests.

The IAAF also said the Taskforce had noted comments made to German television network ARD over the weekend that some coaches, with links to the doping affair, were involved again with coaching Russian national team athletes.

“This runs counter to assurances the Taskforce has previously received from RUSAF that it is disassociating itself from the old regime,” the IAAF said.

“The Taskforce will be asking RUSAF for urgent clarification.”

Coe said he believed progress had been made in Russia, “but I think it was sensible to maintain the suspension”.

Russia’s reinstatement has been rejected several times by the IAAF over the past three years. The athletics body is the only other major sports organisation to keep Russia banned for at least the coming months.

Both WADA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have revoked their suspensions of Russia while the International Paralympic Committee has said it will reinstate Russia by March 15.

Coe said there had been no inquiries from either the IAAF or WADA about reinstating the Russian federation.

“We (the council) made the judgement ourselves that we would support the recommendation of the Taskforce and clearly the data that is still being examined at WADA and will come to the AIU (Athletics Integrity Unit) is still a large part of that criteria,” he said.

Coe would not speculate on when the ban could be resolved.

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said. “The criteria has to be met.”

Reporting by Gene Cherry; Additional reporting by Gabrielle-Tetrault-Farber in Moscow; Writing Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Peter Graff and Ed Osmond

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