Athletics: Russia's bid to make Rio in doubt

The Russian Olympic Committee headquarters building in Moscow, which also houses the Russian Athletics Federation.
The Russian Olympic Committee headquarters building in Moscow, which also houses the Russian Athletics Federation.PHOTO: REUTERS

European athletics chief says reforms may not be implemented in time for ban to ease

PARIS • European Athletics president Svein Arne Hansen has expressed doubt whether Russia, currently suspended from all athletics competitions following allegations of state-sponsored doping, will have implemented reforms in time to compete in next year's Rio Olympics.

Russia was hit with an indefinite suspension by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) last month after a World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) independent commission report revealed that the country's anti-doping agency had "routinely" violated global testing standards.

A team of experts named by Wada have begun work in Moscow to help Russia implement the necessary reforms with an IAAF inspection team due to visit on Jan 10-11.

They will then report back to the IAAF Council by the earliest at its March 27 meeting in Cardiff, leaving just over four months before the Olympics begin on Aug 5.

"For the moment they (Russia) have to fulfil the conditions, I cannot really see them competing in Rio," Hansen said in a interview with athleticsweekly.com.

"We will have the first report to the IAAF in March but for the moment they have to really, really put a lot of effort in to compete in Rio.

"They must have a cultural change. They must get rid of all those people from before."

The former Norwegian athletics chief believes that the necessary changes are being put in place but it will take time.

"They are now working very, very hard to have this improved," Hansen said.

"They have been faced with very, very tough conditions but I think they want to play along.

"We know some good people in Russian athletics and I'm sure they will be elected. We hope that some new people will come in who really understand that this must be changed."

Russian athletes will not be able to compete at the world indoor championships in Oregon in March. The country has also lost the hosting rights to next year's race walking World Cup and the world junior championships, which were scheduled to take place in Cheboksary and Kazan respectively.

Meanwhile, Wada has said that the second part of an explosive independent commission report into allegations of systematic doping and "corruption and bribery" at the highest levels of international athletics will be released on Jan 14.

When the first part of the report authored by former Wada chief Dick Pound was released, Wada said it was temporarily withholding some information from the public arena, until international criminal police body Interpol had time to consider the evidence for appropriate investigation.

Pound has said the second part of the report will include further allegations that focus on possible corruption within the IAAF.

Former IAAF president Lamine Diack has already been accused by French authorities of corruption, while new head Sebastian Coe is under fire for having taken too long to act on allegations of impropriety within the governing body.

Coe had been the IAAF's vice-president from 2007 before assuming the presidency this year.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 31, 2015, with the headline 'RUSSIA'S BID TO MAKE RIO IN DOUBT'. Print Edition | Subscribe