All news

World Athletics set to discuss neutral-status issuance to Russian athletes in late July

The All-Russia Athletics Federation failed to repay its fine of $5 million to the world’s governing body of track and field athletics, World Athletics, before the set deadline of July 1, which entails consequences

MOSCOW, July 2. /TASS/. The world’s governing body of track and field athletics, World Athletics, announced on Thursday its decision to postpone the issuance of the so-called neutral status to Russian athletes until late July after the All-Russia Athletics Federation (RusAF) failed to pay a fine of $5 million before the set deadline.

"World Athletics can confirm that it has not received the payments due from the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) on 1 July, nor any information on when the monies may be paid, despite reminders and correspondence with the Federation," a statement from World Athletics reads.

"As a result, World Athletics will stand down both the Doping Review Board (DRB) and the Russian Taskforce until World Athletics’ Council has reviewed and discussed the situation at their meeting on 29-30 July, as set out in the decision made by the Council on 12 March," the statement continues.

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

In case of RusAF’s failure to pay the fine of $5 million to World Athletics before the set deadline of July 1, Russian athletes would be denied permits for their neutral-status participation in international tournaments.

The press service of the federation quoted RusAF President Yevgeny Yurchenko as saying earlier this week that the country’s governing body of track and field athletics planned to ask World Athletics to postpone a repayment of the $5 million fine.

"We recognize these are difficult times, but we are very disappointed by the lack of progress made by RusAF in terms of the requirements set in March," World Athletics President Sebastian Coe was quoted as saying. "The serious allegations of breaching the anti-doping rules resulted in a new RusAF administration and we had assurances and hoped that change was on its way."

"However, the experience of the Russian Taskforce, chaired by Rune Andersen, is that this has fallen well short of expectations. RusAF is letting its athletes down badly," Coe continued. "We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail."

"The terms of payment of the fine and costs were clear and unchallenged by RusAF at the time so this issue will now need to return to Council at the end of July, as we stated in March," the president of World Athletics added.

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 at least four more high-ranking people from the federation. They were subjected to penalties for their alleged help in the falsification of documents, which Russian high jumper Danil Lysenko presented as his excuse for skipping obligatory doping tests. Shlyakhtin and at least four other officials of RusAF submitted 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.