Focus on Coe's reforms, compliance by Russia

MONACO • A reform-driven Sebastian Coe and drug-tainted Russia will again be in the spotlight of athletics' world governing body, when the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) gathers for three days of crunch meetings starting today.

A crucial part of the opening IAAF Council meeting will be dedicated to the latest update from Norwegian Rune Andersen, the head of the IAAF Taskforce looking into the steps Russia is taking to combat doping.

The IAAF first enforced a ban on Russian athletes in international competition in November last year, after a bombshell World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) report unveiled systematic state-sponsored doping and corruption.

Andersen will report to IAAF's decision-making body whether he thinks Russia has since met the reinstatement conditions set down. The initial ban has twice been extended, in March and June.

It was the official's latter Taskforce report in Vienna that scuppered Russian athletes' chances of competing at the Rio Olympic Games, despite a last-ditch campaign to overthrow the ban led by President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian leader has in recent days, however, approved a law criminalising doping in sports, while Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko has promised anti-doping inspectors full access to military cities which are normally closed to members of the public although often listed as training bases by many Russian athletes.

Staying with the anti-doping theme, Coe will on Saturday preside over a Special IAAF Congress, a one-issue meeting concentrating on the governance structure reform proposals presented in his "Time for Change" document.

He is proposing an "independent Athletics Integrity Unit", which will be responsible for doping matters, taking powers away from national associations. The unit would also look into illegal betting and transfers of allegiance.

The proposed changes would need a two-thirds' majority to be passed.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 01, 2016, with the headline 'Focus on Coe's reforms, compliance by Russia'. Print Edition | Subscribe