Dubai: World Athletics, the global governing body for athletics, has made a scathing attack on the Russian Athletic Federation (RusAF) for failing in its commitment to its athletes.
RusAF had a July 1 deadline to pay World Athletics at least half of a $10 million (Dh36.5 million) fine that had been imposed on Russia to protect its clean athletes.
But with no payments done by the RusAF even after a couple of days since the July 1 deadline, WA has issued a statement condemning Russia for “falling well short of expectations” to protect its athletes.
“We recognise these are difficult times, but we are very disappointed by the lack of progress made by RusAF in terms of the requirements set in March. The serious allegations of breaching the anti-doping rules resulted in a new RusAF administration and we had assurances and hoped that change was on its way,” WA President Sebastian Coe has said in a statement.
“However, the experience of the Russian Taskforce, chaired by Rune Andersen, is that this has fallen well short of expectations. RusAF is letting its athletes down badly. We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail. The terms of payment of the fine and costs were clear and unchallenged by RusAF at the time so this issue will now need to return to Council at the end of July, as we stated in March,” Coe added.
The payments due from RusAF by July 1 were the $5 million fine along with another $1.31 million for re-instatement conditions and verification criteria costs incurred by WA from June 30, 2019 to March 31, 2020. This includes the legal and CAS costs, Task Force costs, doping review board costs and the Lysenko investigation costs.
WA also confirmed that it had neither received any payments from the RusAF as of July 1, nor got any information on when the monies would be paid by Russia, despite reminders and correspondence with the federation.
The RusAF had earlier this week requested WA to indefinitely postpone the deadline for paying the fine while claiming it does not have the funds available.
Russia’s state-run news agency TASS had reported RusAF President Yevgeny Yurchenko making the request to have the fine postponed on the grounds that it doesn’t have the funds.
“As of today, RusAF does not have money to pay fines issued by World Athletics,” Yurchenko had been quoted by TASS.
“I can say that the negotiations with World Athletics, which began on the first day of my Presidency, have not stopped and continue to this day. We work in close cooperation with all interested parties — Russian Olympic Committee, the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation and the Russian Anti-Doping Agency,” he added.
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As a result of the non-payment, WA has taken a decision to stand down both the Doping Review Board (DRB) and the Russian Taskforce until the World Athletics’ Council has reviewed and discussed the situation at their meeting that is due to be held on July 29-30.
“Both the Russian Taskforce and the DRB have, in good faith, moved forward in a number of areas such as the process to recruit two independent experts to work alongside RusAF and its Reinstatement Commission on a detailed reinstatement plan. The DRB has also opened up the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process to facilitate the granting of ANA status for athletes returning to competition, in preparation for the fine being paid by July 1,” a separate statement from WA said.
“Both of these processes will be put on hold until the Council meets at the end of July to ensure World Athletics is not incurring additional costs that may not be reimbursed,” the statement added.
It may be recalled that Russia’s clean athletes have been joined by some former high-profile champions including pole vaulter Elena Isinbayeva seeking an intervention into the case from the country’s President, Vladimir Putin.
Had the payment of $5 million been made by July 1, the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process would have allowed certain clean Russian athletes to compete under a neutral banner at all future competitions.
The WA had imposed an ANA cap of 10 athletes for major events, including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, on Russia when it resumed the process in March and announced the fine following an investigation concerning high jumper, Danil Lysenko.
Seven RusAF officials, including then-President Dmitry Shlyakhtin, were charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) with obstructing an anti-doping investigation into Lysenko by forging documents to explain missed tests. The 23-year-old Lysenko now faces a ban of up to eight years.
RusAF has been suspended by WA since November 2015 following revelations of state-sponsored doping. The Lysenko affair plunged the organisation into further trouble and contributed to the AIU Board stating in a report earlier this year that the World Athletics Council should consider expelling RusAF.