Russian doping scandal

Russia starts to mend fences

Sports Minister Mutko outlines road map for action targeted at lifting suspension in 2 to 3 months

MOSCOW • Russia's suspension from international athletics will be resolved in two to three months, Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said yesterday as officials moved to play down the ban.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) voted overwhelmingly - 22-1 - on Friday to suspend Russia from the sport for widespread and state-sponsored doping, a decision which could cost the country a place at the 2016 Olympics.

"It is a predictable and understandable decision," Mutko told R-Sport news agency. "We need to understand what they want and where they see threats.

"We will develop a joint road map and try to do it quickly.

"I think we can do all the work in two to three months."

Russia is one of the main superpowers in world athletics.

  • Details of the ban

  • The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) on Friday handed Russia a provisional suspension from athletics after it was accused of engaging in state-sponsored doping.

    THE CONSEQUENCES

    • Athletes and athlete support personnel from Russia may not compete in international competitions, including World Athletic Series competitions and the Olympic Games.

    • Russia will not be entitled to host the 2016 World Race Walking Cup (Cheboksary) and 2016 World Junior Championships (Kazan).

    • The All-Russia Athletics Federation (Araf) must delegate all outstanding doping cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

    WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

    • Unless Araf voluntarily accepts a full suspension, the IAAF is entitled to proceed to a full hearing on whether the provisional suspension should be made into a full suspension.

    • To regain membership to the IAAF, the new federation would have to fulfil a list of criteria.

    An inspection team will be led by independent chair Rune Andersen, an independent international anti-doping expert and three members of the IAAF Council, who will be appointed in the next few days.

    AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

It finished second behind the United States in the track and field medal count at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

President Vladimir Putin has also used sporting success to promote his image of Russia as a resurgent global power, portraying its hosting of a successful Winter Olympics in Sochi in 2014 as a symbol of a newly confident nation.

Now, Russia will be stripped of hosting the world race walking and world junior championships next year. It will have to work fast to make the Rio Olympic Games in August 2016, and appeared to take the first steps yesterday.

Russia's Olympic committee said it would lead athletics' reform in the country and the sport's head said he was prepared to resign.

"The Russian Olympic Committee is ready to take the initiative to reform the Araf (All-Russia Athletic Federation) and bring it in line with the requirements of the IAAF and anti-doping legislation," committee head Alexander Zhukov was quoted by the R-Sport news agency as saying.

"This must be done efficiently and as soon as possible to ensure that our athletes participate in the Olympic Games."

Vadim Zelichenok, acting head of the Araf, said the IAAF ban was harsh but he was prepared to resign to help Russian athletics recover from the scandal, the country's news agencies reported.

After a three-hour teleconference on Friday, hosted by its president Sebastian Coe, the IAAF council voted 22-1 in favour of suspending Russia.

The meeting was called to discuss Monday's report by the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

It recommended the punishment, which is unprecedented for doping offences. The report alleged collusion between Russian athletes and the country's federation and anti-doping authorities. It noted a deeply-rooted culture of cheating that enabled athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs without fear of being tested.

The report recommended suspending the Russian federation until a new framework was in place.

"We will get the change we want and only then will Russian athletes return to international competition," Coe said. "But we discussed and agreed that the whole system has failed the athletes, not just in Russia, but around the world."

Prior to the vote, Mr Mutko had turned the spotlight back on the IAAF, claiming that the governing body had been involved in concealing 155 doping cases, mostly from countries other than Russia.

"The IAAF since 2008 or 2009 hid not just Russian athletes' samples but 155 cases that they then pulled out with about 15 of our athletes," he said.

Kenya, under scrutiny amid allegations of widespread doping in world athletics, yesterday announced the immediate establishment of an anti-doping agency.

The government released details of the initiative with the aim of assuaging concerns over the nation's anti-doping policy.

Wada has continued to raise concerns over Kenya's efforts to put into effect its anti-doping measures over the past two years, warning that Kenya could face being ejected from the Olympics unless it showed its seriousness in fighting doping.

More than 30 Kenyan athletes have been suspended and five more banned since 2012 after testing positive for prohibited performance-enhancing drugs.

Notable among that number was marathon star Rita Jeptoo.

There were two positive tests at this year's Beijing world championships, where the Kenyans topped the medal table for the first time since 1983. They won seven golds, six silvers and three bronzes.

REUTERS, THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 15, 2015, with the headline 'RUSSIA STARTS TO MEND FENCES'. Print Edition | Subscribe