BUENOS AIRES: Russia’s ban from international athletics over widespread doping has been maintained by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), the president of the sport’s governing body, Sebastian Coe, said on Friday. Russia has been suspended from international athletics since November 2015 after the McLaren report discovered widespread doping. The Russians had hoped to be reinstated but IAAF officials meeting in Argentina on Friday unanimously upheld the ban and said that although Russia had taken positive steps in the right direction it had not done enough to merit inclusion.
“We have brought about change and it’s change that is very viable,” said Coe. “But we weren’t yet at that point where every element of that criteria had been met.” Russia’s political and sporting leaders have repeatedly denied state involvement in doping, a key sticking point in lifting the ban, although Russian athletes cleared by the IAAF were allowed to compete as neutrals at last year’s world championships. Such athletes will again be allowed to compete as neutrals in the European Championships, which are scheduled to start in Berlin on Aug 7.
Meanwhile, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has welcomed new anti-doping regulations in the sport that put greater responsibility on national federations. Following an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) council meeting, national federations will be divided into three categories with differing obligations based on their level of success and the perceived risk of doping.
“For too long the strict requirements of the anti-doping rules have fallen largely onto athletes,” AIU chairman David Howman said in a statement. “The IAAF Council should be congratulated for adopting innovative new rules that also make all of its member federations accountable on anti-doping matters. This will help ensure lasting and meaningful change in athletics.”
The doping scandal involving Russian athletes, which saw the country’s track and field team banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics, has cast a long and enduring shadow over athletics. The AIU was set up a year ago as part of the IAAF’s effort to separate itself from anti-doping and corruption and rebuild athlete and fan confidence in the sport. The AIU first raised the idea of the new rules with the IAAF council in November and after discussions with all stakeholders recommended the amendments at this week’s meeting in Buenos Aires.
The IAAF said four member federations – Kenya, Ethiopia, Belarus, Ukraine – would constitute the current watchlist of Category A, which includes the members most at risk of doping. Athletes from those countries will have to undergo at least three out-of-competition doping tests in the 10 months prior to a world championships or Olympics. The power to categorize members into one of three groups will rest with the AIU board and the new rules will come into effect from 2019, a year before the Tokyo Olympics. – Agencies