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Russia’s Shubenkov says IAAF can't deny him right to bid for world best athlete title

November 16, 2015, 19:26 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The Russian athlete says that in his view, the situation with the threat of barring the Russian athletes from the Olympic Games is abnormal
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© Vladimir Smirnov/TASS

MOSCOW, November 16. /TASS/. World champion in men’s 110 metres hurdles Russian athlete Sergey Shubenkov told TASS on Monday that the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) that imposed severe sanctions on the All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) has no right to exclude his candidature from the list of contenders for the title of the world’s best athlete.

The IAAF Council at its latest meeting last Friday regarded ARAF’s report on fighting doping use unconvincing and by an overwhelming majority of votes decided to suspend ARAF membership in this international organisation. According to many experts, there is high probability that the Russian athletics national team will not be able to take part in the World Indoor Championships, which will take place in the United States from 17 to 20 March 2016, as well as in the Olympic Games in Brazil that will be held in August.

"I’m very angry," Shubenkov said. "IAAF has adopted an unprecedented decision. In essence, I have been punished for nothing. But IAAF will hardly dare to remove me from the vote. May I not claim to be the best athlete in the world?"

The Russian athlete says that in his view, the situation with the threat of barring the Russian athletes from the Olympic Games is abnormal. "It looks like the story of my family may be repeated," he added. "My mother, USSR’s leading athlete [Natalya Shubenkova, 1986 European vice-champion in heptathlon, USSR 5-time champion], could not go to Los Angeles in 1984. But she had to stay home for political reasons. Now it turns out that the story repeats - some officials say I should stay home. What have I done to be barred from international competitions, including in Rio? The situation is extremely abnormal, but I hope for a favourable outcome."

Russia’s best athlete in 2015, Sergey Shubenkov has been put on the expanded list of contenders for the title of the world’s best athlete. According to the IAAF official website, the three finalists among men and women from the expanded list will be determined by a group of 10 experts. The names of the finalists will be announced on November 17 and 18. The winner will be announced at an IAAF informal dinner on November 28. The IAAF gala evening this year has been cancelled due to a corruption scandal with the former head of the organisation Lamine Diack.

Diack is provisionally suspended by the IOC while he is investigated by French police over allegations he took bribes to cover up positive drugs tests when in charge of the IAAF. He had already resigned as president of the International Athletics Foundation, the charitable arm of the IAAF, which the 82-year-old headed for 16 years.

On Monday, the IAAF was implicated in a World Anti-Doping Agency report that accused Russia of widespread doping. The WADA Independent Commission delivered on Monday a report on its investigation into doping abuse allegations involving Russian athletes and recommended that the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) suspend all athletes of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) from participation in international competitions.

It also recommended on Monday to ban for life five Russian athletes and five coaches over their involvement in doping abuse violations as well as to strip the Moscow anti-doping laboratory of its license.

The ARAF sent a detailed report on its activities over the recent years to the IAAF on Thursday along with its official reaction on the report from WADA. The IAAF is set for an urgent link-up conference later in the day to make a decision on the recommended suspension of the Russian athletics federation.

The Independent Commission of WADA was set up and began its work earlier in the air following a series of German documentaries on the alleged mass use of performance enhancing drugs among Russia’s filed and track athletes.

In December 2014 German TV Channel ARD aired a series of documentaries on alleged doping abuse in Russian sports. The ARD’s two-part documentary, entitled Geheimsache Doping (Secret Doping Case), claimed that Russian athletes systematically took banned substances on instructions from their coaches.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced in June his deep disappointment with the rise of positive doping cases registered among Russian athletes and urged to enhance the fight against the abuse of performance enhancing drugs.

On August 1 this year ARD released another documentary "Doping - Top Secret: The Shadowy World of Athletics." The film claimed that ARD and British newspaper The Sunday Times had obtained a leaked database belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which contained more than 12,000 blood tests from around 5,000 athletes in the years 2001 to 2012.

ARD further alleged that a third of medals (146, including 55 golds) in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests but none of these athletes have been stripped of their medals.

The Sunday Times also alleged that Russian athletes suspected of doping abuse had won 80% of medals for their country at Olympic Games and World Championships between 2001 and 2012.

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