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 draw attention to his book about doping in Russian sports that will soon hit the shelves, former General Secretary of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (RusAF) Mikhail Butov 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. The move would nullify chances of Russian track and field athletes to compete at major sports events even as neutrals.
"I don’t think that this is a certain hint or that this statement is marking the council [meeting]," Butov noted. "People just try to use attention to promote their products, the book in this case. This is simply a marketing story, newsworthy stories are used like this. In this case, the newsworthy story is definitely the council."
"That is why the book is coming out on July 30. Is it a PR move? Of course," he added. "At the same time, I barely have any optimism ahead of the council, but it’s important to fight until the end because the ultimate decision will be made by the World Athletics Congress. We will have six months to fix the issue, this should become an absolute priority for everyone involved in this case."
The former head of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory Rodchenkov’s book entitled ‘The Rodchenkov Affair’ is coming out on July 30, the last day of the World Athletics Council meeting.
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.