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IAAF made harsh but fair decision suspending Russia’s membership — Russian official

A total of 166 people at the IAAF Congress voted in favor of extending the suspension term

MOSCOW, August 3. /TASS/. A decision made by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to bar Russian track and field athletes from international competitions was justified, Dmitry Shlyakhtin, the president of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF), said on Thursday.

The IAAF Congress voted earlier on Thursday to extend the suspension term of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF). The voting followed a report delivered on Monday by Independent chairperson of IAAF Taskforce Rune Andersen, who recommended the participants of the IAAF Council in London to keep in force the suspension of the Russian track and field body, also referred to as RusAF, since Russia has not implemented in full the criteria necessary for its membership reinstatement.

"As you know, as a result of the doping scandal, in 2015 the former leadership of RusAF resigned and I was elected as the new head of the federation with the power until 2020," Shlyakhtin said addressing the IAAF Congress in London on Thursday before the voting was held.

"Truly speaking, when I immersed into the situation that developed in recent years in Russian Athletics, I was shocked, the use of doping by athletes, the concealment of doping tests results, corruption and extortion of the former leadership of RusAF and the IAAF," he said.

"Taking all this into account, the decision of the IAAF Council on the suspension of our Federation from the IAAF membership was probably a forced measure," according to Shlyakhtin.

"Suspension of the Russian athletes from all international competitions was a harsh decision, but we accepted it, as we understood the inevitability of such a step and the need to say stop to doping and corruption," the RusAF chief stated.

Shlyakhtin also extended his apologies to international track and fielders, who were deprived of their medals because of unfair play.

"On behalf of the new RusAF leadership, I would like first of all to bring my apologies to the athletes whose victories were stolen in a dishonest way, but the truth has triumphed and clean athletes should know that we value their work and victories, so that athletics is a clean sport and all victories are deserved," he said.

Russia, he said has been doing everything possible over the course of the past two years to ensure that such situation would never happen again in the future.

"For more than 20 months, in cooperation with the IAAF Taskforce, under the chairmanship of Rune Andersen, we are doing everything possible to ensure that this does not happen again in Russian Athletics."

"Our main goal is to do everything possible to be sure that our athletes are clean," Shlyakhtin added.

A total of 166 people at the IAAF Congress voted in favor of extending the suspension term for the ARAF, while only 21 voted against.

n 2015, the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) Independent Commission carried out an investigation into the activities of the ARAF, the Moscow anti-doping laboratory, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the Russian sports ministry.

The commission accused certain athletes and sports officials of doping abuse and involvement in other activities related to violations of international regulations on performance enhancing substances.

The work of the Moscow anti-doping laboratory and RUSADA was eventually suspended. The IAAF in turn decided to suspend ARAF’s membership in the global governing body of athletics and put forward a host of criteria, which the Russian ruling body of track and field sports was obliged to implement in order to restore its membership in the global federation.

Nineteen Russian track-and-field athletes have been cleared to take part in the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London this month. However, they will perform as neutral athletes as the ARAF remains suspended. Russian track-and-field athletes are banned from wearing gear of the national team or wear any apparel symbolizing the Russian flag at competitions.