Yevgeny Yurchenko
Yevgeny Yurchenko Image Credit: Reuters

Dubai: The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) has taken its first step of avoiding expulsion from World Athletics after it paid off the outstanding fine owed to the global governing body late on Wednesday.

Acting RusAF President Yevgeny Yurchenko told Russia’s official state news agency TASS late on Wednesday that World Athletics had been paid the outstanding $6.31 million (Dh23.15 million), just three days before Saturday’s deadline.

The Russian Sports Ministry allocated a one-time subsidy to the RusAF to clear its debt with WA, it was said in a statement. The world governing body has also confirmed it had received the payment and the first of RusAF’s reinstatement conditions has been met.

“World Athletics can confirm it has today received the funds to settle RusAF’s two outstanding payments ($5 million fine and $1.31 million in costs and can acknowledge that the first of the conditions set by the Taskforce has been met in full,” a spokesperson said.

The payment comes following Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin’s unconditional assurance on a last-ditch guarantee to pay the money before the World Athletics Council met last month to discuss the status of RusAF. Had the RusAF failed to pay up by August 15, WA would have called a Congress for later this year to vote on the expulsion of the embattled organisation.

The suspension of the RusAF, which had been extended more than a dozen times since it was first imposed in 2015, will last until at least September 30.

In the meantime, the RusAF Reinstatement Commission must provide a draft plan - which officials claim could be sent by the end of this week - to WA by August 31.

Signs are that the RusAF will meet its next deadline, which could pave the way to its five-year suspension being lifted. Any changes required by the World Athletics Taskforce must be incorporated to the satisfaction of the group by September 30.

It may be recalled that RusAF’s future had been plunged into jeopardy when it missed the July 1 deadline for the $6.31 million payment - comprising half of the $10 million fine the body had been ordered to pay and another $1.31 million in various costs - to be paid to World Athletics.

The fine from WA came after an investigation into an anti-doping rule violation by world indoor high jump champion Danil Lysenko. Seven RusAF officials - including then-President Dmitry Shlyakhtin - were charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) with obstructing an anti-doping investigation by forging documents to explain Lysenko’s missed tests.

Yurchenko had resigned in the fallout to the RusAF failing to meet the deadline, but he has since returned in an acting capacity until elections are held on November 30.