Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
As expected, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced that the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) has not yet done enough to be readmitted to world athletics. “The view of the Task Force is that there is significant work still to be done to satisfy the reinstatement conditions”, said said Rune Andersen, Chairman of the Task Force appointed to assess whether RusAF had implemented sufficient reforms, reported Reuters. “We still need to interview athletes and coaches named in the WADA [World Anti-Doping Agency] commission report to understand the scope and nature of previous doping activities”.
Andersen presented his report on reforms in Russia to the IAAF Council at its meeting in Monaco today. The IAAF will hold another meeting in May to decide whether RusAF should be readmitted. Evidence from an ARD documentary aired last week has been passed to Andersen. The documentary revealed that banned Russian coaches are still training athletes in Russia, and featured conversations with coaches who agreed to supply performance-enhancing drugs to journalists posing as athletes ahead of the Russian Winter Championships.
At the Tackling Doping in Sport conference this week, founding President of WADA, Dick Pound, said that Russia is just “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic […] My opinion from what I know so far is that they have not got to the point where they can credibly say that they have solved the problem.” A petition has also been launched by athletes urging the IAAF not to readmit Russia until all athletes whose results have been nullified for doping since 2009 return prize money to be redistributed to affected athletes.
This includes ‘whistleblowers’ such as Yuliya Stepanova, who exposed systematic doping in Russia through a December 2014 documentary by Hajo Seppelt which also aired on ARD. The IAAF Council has asked the Taskforce to consider her request to be ruled eligible for international competition independent of the Russian federation.
The IAAF said that it would ‘monitor compliance’ of Ethiopia, Morocco, Belarus, Kenya and Ukraine. ‘Morocco and Ethiopia both need to appoint an anti-doping coordinator and, as a matter of urgency, establish a national testing programme’, read a statement. ‘Belarus, Kenya and Ukraine have been put on an IAAF monitoring list for 2016’. Meanwhile, a letter from Beckie Scott, Chair of the WADA Athletes Committee, called for WADA to extend the mandate of its Independent Commission to investigate countries other than Russia.
Given the weight of evidence, the IAAF Council will be under intense pressure not to readmit RusAF in May. If it does readmit RusAF, it risks accusations of double standards, since the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) banned Bulgaria from the Rio Olympics in November last year, after a number of its athletes tested positive for performance-enhancing substances.
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