Deadline extended, but Russia confident on Rio inclusion

MONACO • The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has given Russia a tight two-month stay of execution to get its anti-doping house in order, but Moscow insists it is confident Russian athletes will compete in the Rio Olympics.

An independent task force was set up by the IAAF to monitor Russia's adherence to the verification criteria for re-entry to international competition, following its suspension in November.

Task force head Rune Andersen, a former World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) director, recommended to the IAAF Council that, while Russia had made some advances, they simply were not enough.

"The view of the task force is that there is significant work still to be done to satisfy the reinstatement conditions and so the Russian athletics federation should not be reinstated to membership at this stage," IAAF president Sebastian Coe said.

Time is now ticking away for Russian athletes ahead of August's Olympics, not least because they have to attain qualifying marks before teams are registered in the second week of July, with track and field set to kick off on Aug 12 in Rio.

But the door was left ajar for Russia's re-inclusion in the IAAF family.

Coe said that an extraordinary council meeting would be held in May, when Andersen and his team will again report their findings before a collective decision is taken.

Despite Andersen saying Russia's problem was one of cultural change that, worryingly, could take years, one person in no doubt that Russia will tick all the boxes in the coming two months is the country's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.

"I don't see any insurmountable obstacles that may prevent the closing of the issue in May," Mutko said.

Coe, who has endured a tough beginning since taking over the IAAF presidency, repeated his vows to crack down on doping.

"The job of the IAAF council is to make sure that those athletes who are going to the Olympics are clean and are in systems that are based upon integrity," he said.

Kenya, Ukraine and Belarus were also "put on an IAAF monitoring list for 2016 to ensure their national anti-doping programmes are significantly strengthened and their journey to compliance completed before the end of this year," Coe added.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 13, 2016, with the headline 'Deadline extended, but Russia confident on Rio inclusion'. Print Edition | Subscribe