MONACO (AFP) - Russia's participation at the Doha world championships remains on tenterhooks after the IAAF voted on Saturday (June 8) to maintain its ban on the track and field giants over doping.
A source said the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) voted at a council meeting in Monaco for the 11th time to uphold a ban first introduced in November 2015 after evidence of mass state-sponsored doping appeared.
The latest report by the IAAF's Task Force, charged with investigating the scandal, noted some "positive developments", the source said.
Those included the repayment of the €2.8 million (S$4.3 million) it has cost the Task Force to do its work as well as access granted to the Moscow laboratory at the heart of the doping scandal between 2011-15.
But the Task Force, the source added, was "troubled" by reports that Russian coaches who had been suspended for doping were continuing to train athletes.
Also worrying was a Sunday Times story on June 2 alleging that Russian athletics federation (RUSAF) officials fabricated documents to show that Danil Lysenko, the 2017 world silver high jump medallist, was too ill to provide his whereabouts after failing to make himself available for out-of-competition drug testing.
It was tough in those conditions for the IAAF to reintegrate Russia, even if "there was debate", according to the source.
The Task Force also said it wanted "Russia to give assurances about the anti-doping culture to all involved, athletes and officials", the source added.
The last global event Russia appeared in was the 2015 Beijing world championships, but dozens of Russian athletes cleared by the IAAF have gone on to compete as neutrals.
While US-based long jumper Darya Klishina was the sole Russian athlete cleared to participate at the 2016 Rio Olympics, 74 Russian athletes competed as neutrals last year and 68 have been cleared since the start of 2019.
The next chance Russia has of seeing the ban overturned will be at a IAAF Council meeting in Doha just days before the Sept 27-Oct 6 world championships in the Qatari capital, leaving a hypothetical window open for its reintegration almost four years on from the initial ban.
IAAF head Sebastian Coe will hold a press conference on Sunday (7pm Singapore time), where he will no doubt face questions about Caster Semenya.
Semenya, the double Olympic 800m champion, has pitched herself against the body's rules obliging female athletes to lower their testosterone levels in order to compete in certain events.
Switzerland's highest court on Monday temporarily suspended the IAAF rules following an appeal by the South African who won the women's 800 metres at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics.
Semenya was contesting a decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sport which previously found that the rules were "discriminatory" but "necessary" to ensure fairness in women's athletics.
"The IAAF will continue to fight for equal rights and opportunities for all women and girls in our sport today and in the future," the IAAF said in the wake of the Swiss court ruling, adding that it was committed to the "full participation of women" in athletics.
It said it would "seek a swift reversion of the super-provisional order moving forwards".