Russian athletes to miss European indoor championships after RusAF fail to finalise doping reform plan in time

Russia has been suspended by World Athletics since 2015 because of widespread doping, but leading athletes have been given “neutral” status after vetting and allowed to compete in international events for much of that time.

Agence France-Presse February 24, 2021 21:50:20 IST
Russian athletes to miss European indoor championships after RusAF fail to finalise doping reform plan in time

Representational image. Reuters

Monaco: Russian athletes won't be able to compete at next month's European indoor championships because they can't yet get exemptions, the governing body of track said Wednesday.

Russia has been suspended by World Athletics since 2015 because of widespread doping, but leading athletes have been given “neutral” status after vetting and allowed to compete in international events for much of that time.

That scheme was suspended when the federation, known as RusAF, was found to have used fake documents to lie about why one of its top athletes, Danil Lysenko, wasn't available for doping tests.

World Athletics ordered RusAF to draw up a program of reforms but rejected the first draft as “deficient” in September and gave Russia until 1 March to fix it. That will then be used to create a new road map for eventually lifting Russia's long-running ban.

RusAF said the process won't be finished in time to compete at the European indoors in Torun, Poland, from 5-7 March, so it will focus on the outdoor season heading into the postponed Tokyo Olympics.

World Athletics said in an e-mailed statement that “any discussion” on giving Russian athletes neutral status would be held at its next scheduled council meeting on 17-18 March.

“We understand all of the bitterness and disappointment of our athletes, coaches and track and field fans and we ask our athletes to once again remain patient and train for the summer season according to the plan,” RusAF said in a statement. “We will persevere in pursuing opportunities for Russians to compete in international competitions.”

World Athletics said in September there was “a lack of know-how and resources” at the federation after senior officials were suspended in relation to the Lysenko case, but its Russia taskforce is now working with RusAF's new management.

Five former senior Russian officials were banned last week because of the Lysenko case, but charges against Lysenko himself and his coach are still unresolved.

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