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Russian Olympic champion links Rodchenkov’s remarks to pending ruling on Russian athletics

On July 29-30, the World Athletics Council will convene for a meeting where the All-Russia Athletics Federation could be fully expelled from the international organization

MOSCOW, July 27. /TASS/. Former head of Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory Grigory Rodchenkov’s call to ban all Russian athletes from taking part in the Tokyo Olympics is meant to prepare public opinion for the upcoming meeting of the World Athletics Council focusing on the issue of introducing tougher sanctions against Russian athletics, 2000 Olympic champion in 400m hurdle event Irina Privalova told TASS.

Rodchenkov, who fled to the US five years ago and became an informant for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), in an interview with the BBC on Monday said that all Russian athletes should be stripped of participation in the Tokyo Olympics, beginning with track and field athletes. On July 29-30, the World Athletics Council will convene for a meeting where the All-Russia Athletics Federation (RusAF) could be fully expelled from the international organization.

"Undeniably, a certain algorithm emerged in the last few years, and they stick to it," Privalova noted. "Now, they have started working on the public opinion ahead of this [World Athletics] decision. It is clear that this situation has long shifted from the sports domain to the political one."

"I would like to believe that we will avoid a full expulsion, but there are barely any chances. If they were there, then hints about this scenario would have leaked to the press. Rodchenkov at least wouldn’t have been allowed to be interviewed by the BBC but since he appeared there, the public opinion is being prepared for this decision. I have a degree in journalism, I understand how it is all done," she added.

The international federation, World Athletics, suspended RusAF’s membership in November 2015, following a wave of doping 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.

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

RusAF was warned that the fine of $5 million to World Athletics had to be paid up by the deadline of July 1. Should it fail to comply, Russian athletes could be denied permits for their neutral-status participation in international tournaments, while RusAF itself could be expelled from the World Athletics. Moreover, Evgeny Yurchenko, who was elected RusAF head five months ago to steer the organization clear out of the crisis, resigned in July, plunging RusAF into more uncertainty.

"I would like to hope that at least our leading athletes will be granted opportunities to compete at the Olympics, if they are to take place at all. If, for example, Maria Lasitskene shows results at the level of world records, they must be forced to clear her to compete," Privalova underlined.