Russia may miss Doha as ban stays

MONACO • Russia's participation at the Doha world championships remains on tenterhooks, after the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) voted on Saturday to maintain its ban on the track and field giants over doping.

A source said the sport's world governing body decided 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.

But the latest report by the IAAF's Task Force, charged with investigating the scandal, noted some "positive developments", the source added.

Those included the repayment of the €2.8 million (S$4.33 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 and 2015.

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 of London story on June 2 alleging that Russian athletics federation (Rusaf) officials fabricated documents to show that Danil Lysenko, the 2017 world high jump silver 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, including Lysenko, 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 this year.

The next chance Russia has of seeing the ban overturned will be at an IAAF Council meeting in Doha just days before the Sept 27-Oct 6 championships in the Qatari capital, leaving a hypothetical window open for its reintegration almost four years on from the initial ban.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 10, 2019, with the headline 'Russia may miss Doha as ban stays'. Print Edition | Subscribe