5th December 2018

IAAF Council maintains RusAF’s suspension

The Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) yesterday approved an IAAF Taskforce recommendation that the suspension of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) be maintained until it pays for all costs related to its suspension; and until it receives samples taken from 1,000 Russian athletes between 2012 and August 2015, as well as the analytical data relating to them. An IAAF Taskforce Report (PDF below) outlined the requirements RusAF would need to meet in detail, as well as providing its view as to why the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decided to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) despite it not providing access to the samples held at the Moscow Laboratory and the analytical data relating to them, as WADA originally required.

It would appear that the next opportunity for reinstatement of RusAF is at the next IAAF Council meeting in Glasgow. The Scottish city is hosting the European Indoor Championships from 1-3 March next year.

Payment of costs

The IAAF requires RusAF to pay for all costs incurred by the IAAF prior to and after the reinstatement of RusAF. These costs encompass:

• All costs due to the need to impose, enforce and assess compliance with its Reinstatement Conditions and Verification Criteria;
• Costs incurred by the IAAF Taskforce headed by Rune Andersen;
• Costs of related cases that have been taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS);
• Costs incurred by the Doping Review Board from 1 January in dealing with applications from Russian athletes for neutral status.

The Taskforce RusAF President Dmitry Shlyakhtin said in July that all costs would be paid once an invoice and supporting documentation was received. However, it would appear that he changed his mind when the invoice was received. 

‘On 8 November, Mr Shlyakhtin advised the Taskforce that RusAF is not in a position to pay the invoice immediately’, reads the Taskforce report. ‘He asked whether RusAF could be permitted to pay the debt in instalments over a six month period. He also asked that full payment not be made a condition of reinstatement, but instead, once all other requirements are met, that RusAF be reinstated even if some instalments of the debt have not yet become due and are still outstanding.’

The Taskforce made it clear that this is not an option. ‘RusAF has been aware since at least December 2016 of this requirement to pay the IAAF’s costs, and as recently as July 2018 it provided unconditional assurance of payment of these costs in full upon receipt of an appropriate invoice and documentation. The Taskforce does not think it fair that the IAAF and its other members should have to bear those costs any longer. Therefore the Taskforce recommends […] that Council insist on the payment of the costs as a condition of reinstatement.’

However, Shlyakhtin yesterday indicated that he is still hopeful that RusAF will be able to pay the amount owed over a six month period. “Financial settlement of our debt requires a lot of work, including an in-depth study”, he said in a statement. “We need to issue a series of legal documents, and discuss the order of payments. We are also holding talks with the IAAF about the possibility of paying in instalments over six months. Work is proceeding.”

As RusAF is liable to reimburse the IAAF for any costs relating to cases taken to the CAS, its liability could increase if it is is unsuccessful in its appeal against the IAAF Council’s prior 27 July decision not to reinstate its membership. As previously reported, questions also remain as to whether it will need to amend this appeal, now that the IAAF Council has issued a new decision. As Russia will remain excluded for the European Indoors in Glasgow at the start of March, costs are also likely to rise as RusAF is required to reimburse the IAAF for costs incurred by the Doping Review Board in dealing with applications from Russians to compete as neutral athletes. 

In addition, the Taskforce recommended that the IAAF invoice RusAF in January 2019 for further costs incurred by the IAAF between 30 June and 31 December this year. It also recommended that the IAAF invoice RusAF monthly for ongoing costs, and reinstatement is not approved until all outstanding invoices are paid in full. After RusAF payments are up to date, a legal agreement will be drawn up committing RusAF to paying any further costs incurred by the IAAF relating to RusAF’s reinstatement within 30 days, otherwise ‘appropriate remedies’ will be imposed. 

A new condition was also added by the Taskforce, clarifying that if anyone under RusAF’s jurisdiction – including neutral athletes – has a case to answer regarding an anti-doping rule violation (ADRV) committed on or after 3 April 2017, the AIU will prosecute the case. If the alleged ADRV occurred before 3 April 2017, then the case will be prosecuted by the IAAF’s Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) on RusAF’s behalf, with RusAF bearing the cost.

Access to samples

With its 27 July decision, the IAAF Council adopted a Taskforce Report (click here to download) recommendation to add a new requirement that RusAF must meet in order to be reinstated. As explained in yesterday’s Taskforce Report, this was because WADA transferred details recorded in the Moscow Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) relating to 1,800 samples collected from 1,000 Russian track and field athletes to the AIU in December 2017.

‘The AIU needs help from the Russian authorities (1) to identify the athletes who provided 12 of the samples referenced in the LIMS database; (2) to access the analytical data stored on the hard drives of the laboratory instruments that generated the summary findings recorded in the LIMS database; and (3) to facilitate re-testing of the underlying samples where required, following analysis of that data, to determine whether the athlete in question has a case to answer’, reads the 27 July Taskforce Report. ‘Brett [Clothier, head of the AIU] has asked for the Taskforce’s help in obtaining this assistance from the Russian authorities, and we think that help should be provided’. 

Yesterday’s Taskforce Report clarified that on 22 July 2018, the AIU clarified that it needs to receive the following in order determine whether any of the 1,000 athletes has a case to answer regarding potential breaches of IAAF Anti-Doping Rules:

• The analytical data underlying the findings reported in the LIMS database (i.e. the actual chromatograms and electropherograms generated during analysis of the samples);
• The samples themselves, for re-analysis;
• The names of athletes who had provided certain unattributed samples.

The Taskforce said that this requirement had not been met. At an 8 November meeting in Rome, Russian Ministry of Sport representative Artem Yakubov clarified that it was not within RusAF’s powers to meet this requirement. ‘The Taskforce did not find it necessary to challenge him on that issue, however, because he nonetheless assured the Taskforce that this requirement will be met in due course’, reads the report.

It is understood that RusAF cannot provide the information requested by the IAAF because the Moscow LIMS and the samples remain sealed off due to a criminal investigation by the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SKR or Sledcom), launched in June 2016. WADA got around this problem by changing its conditions, allowing RUSADA to be reinstated if Russia agreed to provide access to certain information by 31 December.

Taskforce’s analysis of WADA’s position

The Taskforce was critical of WADA’s 20 September decision, which it saw as changing its requirement for access to the samples and the Moscow LIMS data from a ‘pre-condition’ to ‘two separate post-reinstatement conditions’. It therefore conceded that the requirement for RUSADA to be reinstated had been met, but not before commenting that the Taskforce ‘would have preferred that reinstatement […] be based on RUSADA having met all conditions’. 

Interestingly, it also gave its view on why WADA had changed its conditions regarding RUSADA’s reinstatement. ‘In short, the compliance regime under which RUSADA had been declared non-compliant back in 2015 did not give WADA the power to impose any meaningful consequences if the Russian authorities continued to withhold access to the data and samples held at the Moscow Laboratory; but WADA now has a new compliance regime that provides for significant consequences for non-compliance’, reads the report. ‘Therefore, by reinstating RUSADA and making provision of the data and samples a post-reinstatement condition, the new regime applies, and Russia faces significant consequences if the data and samples are not provided by the deadlines WADA has set’.

However, it added that the IAAF is not bound by the same compliance regime concerns as WADA. ‘Council is free to insist that the AIU’s requirements must be met before RusAF is reinstated’, reads the report. ‘Until those requirements are met, the AIU cannot decide whether the 1,000 Russian athletes whose test results are in the LIMS database do or do not have cases to answer for breach of the IAAF Anti-Doping Rules’.

Double bluffs

“Following the IOC and WADA’s cowardly decision to reinstate Russia through a last minute, secretive back room deal, the IAAF’s decision to keep Russia suspended is a refreshing reminder that anti-doping decision-making should always be built on principles”, read a statement from Travis Tygart, CEO of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). “We all hope a clean Russia returns to the international sporting community, but not at the expense of clean athletes and not at the expense of the Olympic values. Let’s hope this outcome continues to ensure lasting change and the right outcome – that is what clean athletes, governments and sports fans all across the world deserve and expect, now more than ever.”

Jack Robertson, WADA’s former Chief Investigator, said that he disagreed with the IAAF’s acceptance of WADA’s assessment that Russia had met the requirements of accepting the findings of the Independent Person (IP) Reports produced for WADA by Richard McLaren, which outlined that the Russian State orchestrated the systemic doping system in Russia. ‘Russia has publicly and officially denied any involvement by their government or Sport Ministry in the State Sponsored Doping Scandal’, he wrote in an email. ‘As the IAAF astutely pointed out in their assessment and findings, they are not bound by WADA’s decisions. WADA’s decision to put Russia in the “Driver’s seat” shows what I and others view as questionable and flawed judgment. The IAAF has a sincere motivation of protecting a level playing field within athletics, and their decision, as it relates to lifting or continuing the ban, should be based primarily on this, not outside determining factors.’

However, the Taskforce’s analysis of WADA’s reasoning in reinstating RUSADA suggests that it may be an elaborate double bluff that:

• If successful, will allow WADA to access the information that it needs;
• If unsuccessful, will allow WADA to heavily sanction RUSADA for non-compliance.

Whether this works out successfully remains to be seen. As reported, whether Russia is truly committed to anti-doping reform remains subject to question.

Financially, the IAAF Council decision puts RusAF in a very difficult situation, as it specifies a number of ways in which the cost of reimbursing the IAAF will rise during its continued suspension. The IAAF has not disclosed the amount it requires RusAF to pay, but InsideTheGames reported that it stood at US$2.7 million (€2.4 million) at the end of June. 

Finding this money may be difficult for RusAF, due to decreased sponsorship and TV revenues precisely because of the IAAF prohibition on its athletes taking part in international competition. RusAF currently only lists three sponsorship partners on its internet site, one of which is Russian Railways, partially owned by the Russian State. Asking the Russian State to cover its debts may also be politically problematic, due to the State’s continued denial of involvement in systemic doping in Russia.

The CAS failed to hear RusAF’s 25 September appeal against the IAAF’s July decision not to reinstate its membership before yesterday’s Council meeting, and it now looks as if the appeal may have to be withdrawn. It argued that the two remaining criteria being assessed by the IAAF are invalid, as the IAAF has no authority to require Russian authorities to acknowledge that State officials were involved in a scheme to cover up the doping of Russian athletes, nor could RusAF provide access to the Moscow LIMS or the data behind it. 

It would appear that the IAAF Taskforce considered RusAF’s appeal in its new decision, as it has now accepted that WADA’s 20 September decision means that the first condition has been met; and has amended its requirements with regard to the second decision. Such changes are likely to invalidate RusAF’s appeal.

This may be why Shlyakhtin clarified that RusAF needs to “issue a series of legal documents”. It would appear that the double bluffs are only just beginning.

You may also like...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This