Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Russian athletics federation (ARAF) today unexpectedly accepted its suspension by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). The meeting also agreed the formation of a permanent IAAF Integrity Unit – a working group on setting this up was formed when Coe took over from previous IAAF President Lamine Diack in August.
’Council was informed that written confirmation had been received from ARAF accepting their full suspension without requesting a hearing, as was their constitutional right’, read an IAAF statement issued this evening. ‘ARAF confirmed they understood that Council would only accept their reinstatement as an IAAF Member Federation following the recommendation of the IAAF Inspection Team who will decide if the verification criteria have been fulfilled. ARAF also confirmed they will cooperate fully and actively with the team. Council discussed the process which over the next three weeks will lead to a final set of criteria and the verification process. The plan is to present a detailed list of verification criteria to ARAF by the end of the year.’
ARAF’s acceptance is surprising, as it has previously indicated that an IAAF suspension would be unfair on clean athletes. It has yet to issue a statement about its acceptance of the IAAF suspension this evening – either in Russian or English – but did post an interview with Darya Klishina in which the two-times European indoors long-jump champion explained how the IAAF ban could be considered a violation of the rule of law. It also reported on the election of the six members of the IAAF Athletes’ Commission, which the IAAF also announced after the Council meeting.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe also confirmed that he has ended his relationship with Nike, ‘as the current noise level around this ambassadorial role was not good for the IAAF nor Nike’. Coe has been coming under increasing pressure over his relationship wth the sportswear manufacturer. Earlier this week, a BBC investigation uncovered emails which claim that Coe had lobbied former IAAF President Diack with support for the US city of Eugene’s bid to host the 2021 IAAF World Championships.
The US city – where Nike was founded – was awarded the event in April this year without a bidding process, angering the Swedish Athletics Federation, as the city of Gothenburg was putting together a bid. Coe, who replaced Diack in August, has reportedly told Gothenburg that he will investigate whether there was any wrongdoing over the awarding of the event to the Oregon city. Diack is currently under investigation by Interpol over allegations that he accepted bribes in return for covering up Russian doping, following his arrest by French police at the start of this month.
In June, a BBC Panorama programme, ‘Catch me if you can’ (video below), alleged that Alberto Salazar, head of the Nike Oregon Project, used banned steroids and unethical practices on athletes including Galen Rupp, Adam and Kara Goucher. Salazar denied the allegations in part one and part two of an open letter.
The IAAF also confirmed that Coe has ended an annual contract with the five-star Fairmont Hotel, which provided a permanently-serviced apartment for the IAAF President’s use. The IAAF President’s office, ‘Villa Miraflores’, has also been closed and handed back to the Principality of Monaco.
As previously reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative, Russia will not host the World Race Walking Team Championships in Cheboksary, 7-8 May 2016 and the World Junior Championships in Kazan, scheduled for 19-24 July 2016. This is only shortly before the Rio Olympics, which begins on 5 August, which doesn’t suggest IAAF confidence that ARAF will implement changes in time for Rio.
The IAAF said that a process had been agreed for the reallocation of these two competitions, in which a number of countries had expressed interest. An ‘accelerated bidding process’ will open next week, with a decision in January. Other events not under the IAAF’s jurisdiction, such as the 2016 International Ice-Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships in May, are still scheduled to go ahead despite the suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the provisional suspension of the Moscow laboratory.
As previously reported by the Sports Integrity Initiative, a World Indoor meeting, scheduled for 14 February 2016 in Moscow, will be able to take place as planned, but will not be able to feature any international athletes. “The ‘Russian Winter’ indoor meeting is a competition which is part of a IAAF global circuit but it is not organised by the IAAF”, said a spokesperson. “As ARAF is provisionally suspended from international competitions it cannot stage an international meeting. However, ARAF might decide to hold the meeting as a domestic competition for only Russian athletes. The Russian Winter meeting cannot be part of the IAAF Indoor Permit circuit as long as the suspension of ARAF is in place.”
It was significant that the IAAF announced that two Council members were absent from the meeting: Mikhail Butov of Russia and David Okeyo of Kenya. Bhutov’s signature was on the ARAF letter sent to the IAAF signalling acceptance of its suspension. It is understood that the IAAF Ethics Commission is examining whether Okeyo, Vice President of Athletics Kenya, was involved with the alleged siphoning of money from a sponsorship contract agreed with Nike in 2003. Yesterday, athletes ended a siege of the offices of Athletics Kenya after government Minister for Sport, Richard Ekai, agreed plans for change that include calling for Okeyo’s resignation.
Changes are also afoot in Russia. ARAF yesterday reported that the State Duma had introduced a Bill to establish criminal liability for inducing an athlete to dope. The Bill was introduced by Ildar Gilmutdinov of the ‘ United Russia’ faction, and would amend Russia’s Criminal Code to make coaches, trainers, doctors and athlete support personnel subject to fines and potential prison sentences for inducing an athlete to dope.