MOSCOW, February 24. /TASS/. Russian track and field athletes will skip the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championship next month because World Athletics is set to consider their neutral status participation in international tournaments not earlier than March 17-18, the press service of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (RusAF) said in a statement on Wednesday.
The 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships is scheduled to be hosted by Poland’s Torun on March 4-7.
"A possible reinstatement of the Russian athletes’ neutral status is highly likely to be viewed by World Athletics at its Council’s meeting on March 17-18, but not earlier," the statement reads.
"Therefore, Russian athletes will be unable to compete at the European Athletics Indoor Championship," according to RusAF.
Earlier in the month, Mateusz Bosiacki, a spokesman for the tournament’s organizing committee, told TASS that Russian track and field athletes would be able to participate in the 2021 European Athletics Indoor Championships in Poland next month if World Athletics grants them the status of the Authorized National Athlete (ANA) before February 24.
"We understand the bitterness and disappointedness of our athletes, coaches and all fans of track and field athletics and call on our athletes to stay patient and keep training in line with the schedule for the upcoming summer season," the statement reads.
"We will maintain persistent efforts to see that our athletes participate in international tournaments," Russia’s governing body of track and field athletics added.
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.
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 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 several more high-ranking people from the federation who allegedly helped falsify documents, which Russian high jumper Danil Lysenko presented as the excuse for skipping doping tests. Shlyakhtin submitted his letter of resignation on November 23.
In March 2020, the World Athletics Council ruled to fine RusAF $5 million for an alleged involvement of the previous administration in the attempt to forge official documents of high jumper Danil Lysenko. RusAF paid the fine on August 12, 2020.
In early December 2020, World Athletics decided to postpone its decision on the issuance of neutral status permissions for Russian athletes until the world’s governing body of track and field athletics received a final detailed plan on RusAF’s status reinstatement.
Last week, RusAF sent to World Athletics a detailed strategic plan of the federation’s reinstatement in its rights. Due to the currently suspended membership of the All-Russia Athletics Federation with World Athletics Russian track and field athletes have no right to participate in international tournaments even under the neutral status.