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Russian sports minister opposes neutral-flag participation for national athletes

March 15, 2017, 15:49 UTC+3 MOSCOW

"This issue is subject for further discussions with the International Association of Athletics Federations and the All-Russia Athletics Federation," the sports minister said

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Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov

© Dmitriy Serebriakov/TASS

MOSCOW, March 15. /TASS/. Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov said on Wednesday it would be wrong for national athletes to compete at international tournaments under a neutral flag as it had been proposed by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

"I believe that the participation under a neutral flag is a wrong decision," Kolobkov said. "This issue is subject for further discussions with the International Association of Athletics Federations and the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF)."

"All issues regarding the participation of our athletes will be settled," Kolobkov said.

"I have competed under a neutral flag in 1992, but it was a completely different story back then," Kolobkov, who is the silver and bronze medalist in fencing of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, said.

Athletes from former Soviet republics, including Russia, participated under a neutral flag in the 1992 Summer Olympics in Spain following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In early January, the IAAF issued criteria, which Russian track and field athletes should meet in order to file applications for participating in international competitions as neutral athletes. All applications must be submitted with the IAAF via ARAF.

Russian Sports Ministry loses rankings in terms of transparency

The Russian Sports Ministry has lost positions in terms of its transparency following recent doping scandals in national sports and such flaw needs to be eradicated, Kolobkov said.

"We have lost rating positions in terms of transparency, although we used to be ranked in the top five of the most open organizations," Kolobkov said. "This is our omission."

"We still believe to be the most open body and we have a state and public control of sports in Russia," the minister said. "Such unfavorable situation emerged following the recently unpleasant atmosphere in sports."

Doping scandal

In 2015, the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Independent Commission carried out an investigation in regard to the activities of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the Russian Sports Ministry.

The commission accused certain athletes and sports officials of doping abuse and involvement in other activities related to violations of international regulations on performance enhancing substances. 

Eventually, the IAAF decided to suspend ARAF’s membership in the global governing body of athletics and put forward a host of criteria, which the Russian ruling body of track and field sports was obliged to implement to restore its membership in the global federation.

In mid-June of 2016, the IAAF Council ruled it was still too early to restore Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) membership in the international organization subsequently extending the suspension of Russian athletes from all international tournaments, including the 2016 Olympic Games in August.

Later, the IAAF anti-doping agency turned down Russian field and track athletes’ individual applications, except the one filed by three-time European champion Daria Klishina.

Starting from January 2016, control over anti-doping regulations in Russian sports has been exercised by RUSADA strictly under the supervision of the British anti-doping agency (UKAD).


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