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All-Russia Athletics Federation’s chief calls for ‘a dialogue with all interested parties’

Secretary General of the Russian Boxing Federation Umar Kremlev told TASS earlier that his federation was ready to provide assistance to RusAF in the return of Russia’s track and field athletes on the international arena

MOSCOW, June 25. /TASS/. The All-Russia Athletics Federation (RusAF) is open for a constructive dialogue with any interested party, which cares about the sport of track and field athletics, RusAF President Yevgeny Yurchenko told TASS on Thursday.

In March 2020, the World Athletics Council ruled to fine RusAF $5 million for an alleged involvement of the previous executive administration in the attempt to forge official documents of high jumper Danil Lysenko. The dateline to pay the fine was set for July 1, 2020.

Secretary General of the Russian Boxing Federation (RBF) Umar Kremlev told TASS earlier that his federation was ready to provide assistance to RusAF in the return of Russia’s track and field athletes on the international arena.

"RusAF is set to make an official statement in the coming days if we speak about the financial penalty and a number of problems within the federation," Yurchenko said in an interview with TASS.

"I would like to thank Dmitry Svishchev, a member of the Russian State Duma [the country’s lower house of the parliament] Committee on Physical Culture, Sports, Tourism and Youth Affairs and Secretary General of the Russian Boxing Federation Umar Kremlev for their understanding of the current problems in the Russian track and field athletics and their desire to help us," Yurchenko continued.

"We see an understating that the whole sports authority of our country is uniting to help the ‘Queen of Sport’, which is currently faced with a serious trouble," the RusAF president said. "RusAF is open for a constructive dialogue with any part, which is not indifferent to the sport of the track and field athletics."

"We are ready for meetings, as well as cooperation and bilateral work to find the way out [from this situation], with all concerned parties, which are ready to render assistance. I thank my colleagues once again," Yurchenko added.

In case of a failure of the Russian governing body of track and field athletics to pay the fine of $5 million to World Athletics before the set deadline of July 1, Russian athletes will be denied permits for their neutral-status participation in international tournaments.

The international federation, World Athletics, suspended RusAF’s membership in November 2015, following a wave of anti-doping rules violations and formed a special mission on the issue.

World Athletics, however, allowed clean athletes from Russia to participate in international tournaments under the neutral status or the Authorized Neutral Athlete (ANA) until the membership of the RusAF is reinstated. The ANA status prohibits Russian athletes from participating in all international track and field tournaments under the national flag.

World Athletics Taskforce Group, led by Norwegian expert Rune Andersen, was set up to oversee Russia’s implementation of requirements for RusAF’s membership reinstatement with World Athletics.

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, 2019 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.