SII Focus 14th April 2017

Six ‘milestones’ regarding RusAF’s reinstatement remain outstanding

Six ‘milestones’ set by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in order for Russia’s athletes to return to international competition have not been met by the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), outlined an IAAF Taskforce Report (PDF below) published at the IAAF Council meeting yesterday. The ‘milestones’ were set by the IAAF in February 2016, in addition to the original Verification Criteria set by the IAAF in December 2015.

‘Most of the Verification Criteria have been completed; a small number remains outstanding’, states yesterday’s Task Force Report. ‘As far as the Taskforce is aware, the French criminal authorities are happy with the cooperation they are currently receiving from the Russian criminal authorities’.

The additional ‘milestones’ set in February last year were as follows:

• Testing of athletes taking place without ‘adverse incidents or difficulties’;
• RusAF to deliver written report as to why it hasn’t enforced provisional suspensions on Russian athletics coaches;
• An ‘appropriate official response’ to the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) Independent Person (IP) Report complied by Richard McLaren, addressing alleged state involvement;
• ‘Demonstrable objective and practical steps to cultivate the clean sport movement’;
• WADA acceptance that the conditions for the reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) have been met.

Yesterday’s IAAF Taskforce Report outlines how these ‘additional milestones’ have not been met. Although it admits that the IAAF ‘has not encountered any problems in its testing of Russian athletes since February 2017, and the Taskforce has not been advised of any problems arising in UKAD-supervised testing of Russian athletes at national level’, it outlines that testing of athletes falling under RusAF jurisdiction remains limited. It also points out that Russia has still not allowed the IAAF access to Athlete Biological Passport (ABP) samples stored at the Moscow laboratory, and there are still issues regarding access to athletes training in ‘closed cities’ for testing purposes.

The IAAF Taskforce was dismissive of a ‘Legal Opinion on the Provisional Suspension of Coaches’ signed by RusAF Executive Director Alexander Parkin. It said it has received confirmation that coach Vladimir Mokhnev, who was filmed training athletes in March last year this year despite being provisionally suspended by the IAAF (he was sanctioned with a 10-year ban in December last year) was no longer working with athletes.

However, the report expressed concern regarding reports that Dr. Sergei Portugalov, who was provisionally suspended on 24 August 2015, was working within a federal sports scientific institute in Moscow until recently, and that a Moscow medical centre was advertising that Dr. Portugalov was running its elite sports medicine department. ‘We will ask RusAF to confirm it has taken appropriate steps to ensure that no track & field athletes are working with Dr Portugalov’, states the Taskforce Report.

In terms of an ‘appropriate response’ to the WADA IP Report (McLaren Report), the IAAF Taskforce found Russia to be lacking. It states that on 7 February, RusAF’s Vice President Andrey Silnov said “there are no facts there [in the McLaren Report], just assertions, and we’re gradually proving that it’s not a state structure, a system”. It also quotes Russian Olympic committee (ROC) President Alexander Zhukov as saying it is “clear that the serious evidence in the McLaren Report does not exist”.

The IAAF Taskforce also points out previous assertions made by Colonel Zherdev of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (SKR) that it is investigating the contents of the McLaren Report and will take action against  anyone found to have done wrong. However, the SKR is the same body that is preventing access to the ABP samples held at the Moscow laboratory due to its ongoing investigation, and it is also pursuing action against Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, Director of the Moscow and Sochi 2014 laboratories for acting alone in covering up positive samples in return for money. It has even suggested that Rodchenov may have destroyed samples under WADA’s orders.

The IAAF Taskforce is also to ask RusAF for the details of “dozens of coaches” who have “lost the right to work in athletics”, as outlined on 17 February by former Russian Minister of Sport, Vitaly Mutko, who is now Deputy Prime Minister. The IAAF Taskforce also pointed to a March speech by Russian President Vladimir Putin as a positive sign.

In the IAAF Taskforce’s judgement, Russia has failed in demonstrating ‘objective and practical steps to cultivate the clean sport movement’. It highlighted the treatment of Andrey Dmitriev, who in January revealed that  provisionally suspended coaches were still operating in Russia. As previously reported, he has had to flee Russia despite expressing a desire to remain in the country.

The IAAF Taskforce said it had seen media reports in which RusAF specifically criticised Dmitriev for speaking out ‘in spite’ due to others being selected for the national team. It also points out that Yelena Isinbayeva, a two-time Olympic gold winning pole vaulter, has publicly criticised Dmitriev’s motivations.

Isinbayeva has now been elected as Chair of RUSADA’s supervisory board. ‘It is difficult to see how this helps to achieve the desired change in culture in Russian track & field, or how it helps to promote an open environment for Russian whistle-blowers, given that Ms Isinbaeva (i) called the original WADA Commission report ‘groundless’ even though she had never read it; (ii) strongly criticised the original whistle-blowers, Vitaly Stepanov and Juliya Stepanova; and (iii) has also criticised Mr Dmitriev’, reads the IAAF Taskforce Report. ‘My understanding is that WADA is currently discussing Ms Isinbayeva’s election as chair of the RUSADA Supervisory Board with the Russian authorities’.

Dmitriev also told the IAAF Taskforce that:

• Isinbayeva and other Russians have not joined the Clean Sport Collective, and may have been told not to;
• He was fired from both his jobs after the ARD documentary;
• RusAF is encouraging coaches accused in the ARD documentary to sue him (RusAF denies this);
• He was threatened during an interview with a criminal investigator about his allegations;
• His relatives have received calls from Russian police and military asking where he is;
• His passport was taken from him and he was required to report for military service by a set date or face prison, despite previously registering for military service.

“Council was disappointed and concerned to learn that the prospect of the milestones being fulfilled this year by RusAF remains a distant one”, said IAAF President Sebastian Coe in a statement. “In particular the situation of the athlete Mr Andrey Dmitriev, a champion of the clean sport movement in Russia, is alarming considering he has felt it necessary to take sanctuary abroad. Anyone with information about a system which has failed to protect the goals and aspirations of clean athletes must feel it is safe to speak out.”

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