IAAF maintains ban on Russian athletes

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The governing body of world athletics on Tuesday maintained Russia’s ban from track and field over mass state-backed doping, citing two conditions before the powerhouse can return to international competition.

Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF’s taskforce on Russia, said Russian authorities, in the form of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), had to grant access to data from testing of samples at a Moscow laboratory from 2011 to 2015 and also pay the IAAF’s costs.

Access to the samples would hand the Athletics Integrity Unit, the independent body that manages all doping and non-doping integrity-related matters in athletics, the opportunity to determine whether any suspicious findings should be investigated.

“I hope they’ll deliver the data by the end of this year,” Andersen said of the samples taken and stored in the Moscow laboratory. “But I cannot go any further than that.

“We’ve received no assurances it will be delivered to us directly,” the Norwegian said of the data.

“Assurances have been given to WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) and WADA have set a deadline of December 31 to receive the data. We’ll have to rely on receiving the data from WADA before handing it to the AIU.”

The IAAF’s decision means Russia will not, for the moment, be able to compete under its own flag at the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow in February 2019, with the IAAF Council not scheduled to meet again until March.

Russia’s athletics federation (RUSAF) was initially banned by the IAAF in November 2015 over allegations of widespread government-backed doping fraud.

Its athletics team was barred from the 2016 Rio Olympics and also missed the IAAF World Championships in London a year later.

A number of Russian athletes, however, have been granted permission by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to compete as neutrals after meeting the exceptional eligibility criteria, essentially demonstrating that they’ve come through transparent anti-doping testing.

The last full Russian athletics delegation competed at the 2015 Beijing world championships. Since then, one Russian competed in Rio, 19 at the London worlds a year later and 72 at the European champs in Berlin in August.

Russia had also been banned from the Olympic movement over the doping scandal culminating at the 2014 Russian-hosted Sochi Winter Games.

A team of 168 Russians, however, competed in this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games under the neutral banner of “Olympic Athletes from Russia”, although a Russian curling medallist tested positive for a banned substance.

Nevertheless, the International Olympic Committee lifted its ban on Russia at the end of the Pyeongchang Olympics while WADA in September lifted its ban on RUSADA for non-compliance.

WADA drew heavy international criticism when it voted to declare RUSADA “compliant”, before being granted access to Moscow raw data.

It responded by promising it will impose new sanctions if Russia did not cooperate by December 31 and a team visited the Russian capital last week with another due next week to carry out an audit.

The WADA decision led RUSAF to appeal against its IAAF suspension at the Court of Arbitration of Sport.

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