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World Athletics replies to letter from Russia’s track and field athletics body RusAF

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said on Monday that the ministry ruled to return the state accreditation to RusAF after the federation elected the new president and members of its presidium

MOSCOW, March 4. /TASS/. The world’s governing body of track and field sports, World Athletics, have replied to a letter from the All-Russia Athletics Federation (RusAF), which admitted wrongdoings of the federation’s former authorities regarding the Danil Lysenko case, RusAF President Yevgeny Yurchenko said on Wednesday.

"I have sent two letters to World Athletics concerning our cooperation and in regard to scandalous situations, which had left an impact on our relations for many years," Yurchenko told journalists.

"I am pleased to state that we have received prompt replies to our messages," the newly elected president of RusAF said.

On February 28, RusAF gathered for an extraordinary election session to vote on the federation’s new president and elected Yevgeny Yurchenko, who is a member of the Board of Directors of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), as the new head of Russia’s governing body of track and field athletics.

On March 2, Yurchenko sent a letter to the president of World Athletics, in which he agreed with accusations from the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) against RusAF on the wrongdoings in Lysenko case. RusAF’s new president also extended his apologies to World Athletics and the rest of the global family of track and field athletics over negative consequences, which were left as a result of the Lysenko case.

Yurchenko also told journalists on Wednesday commenting on the return letter from World Athletics that President Sebastian Coe intended to launch the process of RusAF’s membership reinstatement with the global organization.

"Outlining the most important messages that he delivered to me, I should say that, first of all, he will be personally supervising sanctions, which may be imposed over doping scandals, and will initiate the process of issuing to Russian athletes neutral status permits for their participation in international tournaments," he said.

"His other message was that the process of RusAF’s membership reinstatement with World Athletics is set to be launched," Yurchenko stated.

"I am planning soon to send to international member federations of World Athletics official letters in a bid to present them a new stance of RusAF’s new administration over the recent developments in the Russian track and field athletics in order to establish a trustworthy and constructive dialogue," the RusAF president added.

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin said on Monday that the ministry ruled to return the state accreditation to RusAF after the federation elected the new president and members of its presidium. On January 31, Matytsin decreed to suspend RusAF’s state accreditation until March 1, 2020.

The press service of the world’s governing body of track and field athletics announced to TASS last week that the issue of the All-Russia Athletics Federation membership reinstatement will be on the agenda of the World Athletics Council session on March 11-12.

World Athletics, which was previously known as the International Association of Athletics Federations or IAAF, suspended RusAF’s membership in late 2015 following a chain of doping abuse scandals in Russia’s track and field sports. The suspension of Russia’s governing athletics body has been ruled to remain in force 12 times since its introduction in 2015 with the most recent decision made on September 23, before the start of the 2019 World Championships in Qatar’s Doha on September 27-October 6.

The World Athletics Council announced on November 22, 2019 its decision to suspend RusAF’s reinstatement process based on charges brought by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU). According to the World Athletics, the AIU charged RusAF on November 21, 2019 "with obstructing an investigation and provisionally suspended several senior federation officials for tampering and complicity."

The provisionally suspended senior officials at that time were then-President of RusAF Dmitry Shlyakhtin and three more high-ranking people from the federation for helping to falsify documents, which Russian high jumper Danil Lysenko presented as his excuse for skipping doping tests. Shlyakhtin and three officials at the issue submitted their letters of resignation on November 23.

On January 29, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) recommended World Athletics to consider an expulsion of RusAF from the list of its members in case the Russian side failed to provide evidence in the Lysenko case. The Russian side was advised to review the case once again and to come up with answers in regard to accusations on this issue.