Wednesday 25 November, 2020

World Athletics freezes Russia panels because of unpaid fine

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “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.”

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “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 program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country's federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday's deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorised neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF's anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July. If the situation isn't resolved soon, it could mean Russian athletes like world champions Mariya Lasitskene and Anzhelika Sidorova are shut out when the Diamond League restarts next month.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly," World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “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.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation's finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics' statement didn't directly address that issue but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) said fake documents were used under the previous management to give high jumper Danil Lysenko an alibi for missing a doping test.

Russians with neutral status won six medals at last year’s world championships, including gold for Lasitskene in the high jump and for Sidorova in the pole vault.

They need to have that status re-issued each year, but World Athletics hasn't approved any applications in 2020. That's because of the lack of competitions during the coronavirus pandemic and World Athletics' desire to review the system after the case involving Lysenko, who held neutral status.

Top-level international track and field resumes next month with the first regular, non-exhibition Diamond League meet of the year in Monaco.

Russia has been suspended from World Athletics, formerly named the IAAF, since 2015. That followed evidence of widespread doping. Russia appeared on track to be reinstated last year before the then-RusAF president Dmitry Shlyakhtin and six others, including Lysenko, were charged over the alleged use of fake documents. Those cases are still awaiting hearings.

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