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MOSCOW, April 14. /TASS/. Yelena Isinbayeva’s appointment as the chair of the supervisory board of Russia’s national anti-doping agency RUSADA may harm the reinstatement chances of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), a senior IAAF official was quoted as saying by the Inside the Games web portal Thursday.
Russia’s IAAF membership has been suspended since the publication of the first report commissioned by WADA in November 2015 following allegations by athletes Vitaly Stepanov and Yulia Stepanova of a state-supported doping program.
Rune Andersen, head of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Taskforce on the reinstatement of the Russian membership, has claimed in his report that Isinbayeva’s appointment, which the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) tried to block, has sent the wrong message and could harm ARAF’s reinstatement chances.
"It is difficult to see how this helps to achieve the desired change in culture in track and field, or how it helps to promote an open environment for Russian whistleblowers," the Inside the Games web portal quoted Andersen’s report, submitted to the IAAF ruling Council during a two-day meeting in London.
According to the report, Andersen explained his criticism by the fact that Isinbayeva "called the WADA Commission report 'groundless' even though she had never read it."
The double Olympic pole vault champion and world record holder was appointed chair of the supervisory board of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) last December. The seven-member board, which gathers once in four months, was established in late 2015 to control the activities of RUSADA and serve as the guarantor of its independence, according to the organization’s charter.
Commenting on Anderson’s statement, Federation Council member and former athlete Tatyana Lebedeva said Isinbayeva became an "irritating factor" for IAAF president Sebastian Coe due to her staunch position to defend Russian athletes and criticism of IAAF.
"When the athletes were not allowed to compete at the Olympics, Yelena defended the athletes and criticized Coe, she is a kind of an irritating factor for him," Lebedeva said.
"If we want to work and see the track and field disciplines developing, everyone should play under the same rules. I don’t understand what does the IAAF want exactly. It is strange that Isinbayeva’s appointment came into spotlight months later. This demonstrates that they are looking for something to point their finger at," she added.
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.