KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: Russia has been left in no doubt about its pariah status in athletics terms, with absence from the Tokyo Olympic Games in August an ever more certain prospect.
The Athletics Integrity Unit of World Athletics has recommended the outright expulsion of the Russian Athletics Federation over its continuing refusal to face up to the consequences of the ongoing doping and cover-up saga.
Last November the IAU accused RUSAF president Dmitry Shlyakhtin and six other officials, including executive director Alexander Parkin, of obstructing a doping investigation into high jumper Danil Lysenko. Nothing has changed since then.
Now the AIU has recommended that the World Athletics Council not only expel Russia from membershup but extends the suspension of the eligibility program for Russian athletes to compete in international competitions under neutral status – as permitted in Rio de Jsneiro four years ago.
A statement said:
In the AIU’s view, RusAF has failed to rebut the case that the AIU set out against RusAF in the charge letter, which was supported by ‘clear and compelling evidence’.
However, instead of admitting the charges and expressing contrition, RusAF has instead ‘gone to great lengths to deny any involvement in the matter, blame others and attack the process’.
The AIU notes: ‘This approach is deeply concerning for the AIU Board as it seems to indicate that the current leadership of the Federation is merely a continuation of the former’. (In other words, there has been no change in attitude, no acknowledgement of the responsibilities of a World Athletics Member Federation, no commitment to change).
The AIU therefore recommends that the charges be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to resolve, and (if the CAS upholds the charges) that the Council ‘consider imposing the severest possible consequences, including considering the expulsion of RusAF from the membership of World Athletics’.
The AIU also recommends that ‘given the seriousness of the charges against RusAF, the strength of the prima facie case, and ongoing concerns about the suitability of the current RusAF management to oversee the sport of athletics in Russia with integrity, that the Authorised Neutral Athlete process should remain suspended until the charges are finally determined’.