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IAAF leaves Russia track and field ban in place

Track and field's world governing body unanimously accepted a recommendation from its Russia taskforce not to reinstate Russia in the upcoming world events.

Reported by: AP , Monaco (France) [ Published on: November 28, 2017 13:48 IST ]
IAAF ban on Russia
Sebastian Coe looks on during the ANOC Executive Council MeetingPhoto:GETTY IMAGES

Russia's ban from international track and field was extended by the IAAF as key Russian sports and political figures continue to deny operating any doping system. Track's world governing body unanimously accepted a recommendation from its Russia taskforce not to reinstate Russia. That is a blow to Russia's chances of competing under its own flag at March's world indoor championships in the British city of Birmingham.

"It is our responsibility to create that landscape where there is trust," IAAF president Sebastian Coe said.

The current IAAF position of allowing some Russians to compete as so-called neutral athletes after reviews of their drug-testing history allows "separation where possible of the clean athletes from a tainted system," Coe added.

While the IAAF has been cautiously optimistic about reforms to the Russian track federation, a key obstacle is the refusal of Russia's sports and political leadership to admit any kind of doping program existed. Russia's national anti-doping agency also remains suspended.

While reforms are under way within Russian sports bodies, "the broader question ... is whether they will be able to operate in a system which we can trust, and I think that is what needs to be addressed by Russian authorities," the IAAF's Russia taskforce head Rune Andersen said.

The taskforce's latest report on Russia, published Sunday, notes "extreme disappointment" at what it says is insufficient communication from the Russian authorities. The Russian government has repeatedly denied having any involvement in doping, and says there was only a smaller-scale plot by a group of rogue anti-doping employees.

Russia was suspended in November 2015 after the World Anti-Doping Agency found evidence of widespread doping. Nineteen Russians were allowed to compete as neutrals at August's world championships, winning one gold and five silver medals.

After the IAAF ruling Sunday, the Russian track federation said it would continue to focus on helping its athletes gain eligibility as neutrals.

"We lament this decision of the IAAF council," federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin said. "We will continue working and doing everything we can so that Russian track and field is associated only with clean and honest athletes."

Russia is the only nation under IAAF suspension, though five more — Belarus, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and Ukraine — have been on a watch list amid concerns about drug use in the countries.

Coe said Sunday that Morocco had been taken off that list following a recommendation from the IAAF's Athletics Integrity Unit. "They will be taken off that watch list and be monitored," he said.

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