13 November 2018

Financial debt main stumbling block for RusAF reinstatement

The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) has said that the requirement to compensate the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for all costs relating to its ongoing suspension is the main stumbling block to RusAF’s reinstatement into international competition. At a meeting with the IAAF Task Force on 7-8 November, RusAF President Dmitry Shlyakhtin outlined that due to the ‘significant’ amount of debt, it had proposed to repay it over a six month period. 

At its 4 December meeting, the IAAF Council will hear a report from IAAF Task Force President Rune Andersen on progress made towards fulfilling the remaining criteria necessary for RusAF’s reinstatement. On 27 July, a report (click here to download) from the Task Force outlined that as well as financial compensation, Russian authorities must acknowledge the findings of the McLaren and Schmid Reports that Ministry of Sport officials were implicated in a scheme to cover up the doping of Russian athletes; and that access must be provided to data from the testing of samples from 2011 to 2015 at the Moscow Laboratory.

On 20 September, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) decided to reinstate the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), accepting that a letter from Russian Minister for Sport, Pavel Kolobkov, met its amended requirements. On the same date, the IAAF outlined that despite WADA’s decision, its above two requirements remain.

“These two pre-conditions and any other outstanding conditions which are required for RusAF’s reinstatement will need to be discussed by the Taskforce before any recommendation is put to the Council”, said IAAF President Sebastian Coe in a statement. “The setting of our own criteria and the process of evaluating progress against these criteria has served the sport of athletics well over the last three years, so we will continue to rely on the Taskforce and our clear roadmap for RusAF reinstatement until we are satisfied that the conditions have been met”.

On 26 September, RusAF filed an appeal with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against the IAAF’s 27 July decision not to reinstate its membership. The appeal outlines RusAF’s view that WADA’s decision means that the two remaining criteria have been fulfilled. It also argues that the criteria are invalid, as the IAAF has no authority to set or police them.

Analysis: loggerheads & lifelines

As reported by InsideTheGames, the IAAF has understandably remained tight-lipped about what was discussed at the November meeting. This is because whatever it decides to do is unlikely to be a simple decision with no consequences.

If it accepts that WADA’s decision means RusAF has fulfilled its remaining two criteria, then it is likely to face similar accusations that it has ‘backed down’ on its original requirements. If it maintains that Russia must acknowledge that Ministry of Sport officials were implicated in a scheme to cover up doping, then it is requiring Russia to do something that WADA argues couldn’t be done. This would put it at loggerheads with the Agency and potentially with the CAS, which in the future will rule on whether the IAAF has jurisdiction to set such a requirement.

The IAAF could face a lifeline due to lack of progress regarding the data from the Moscow Laboratory. On 9 November, the Director General of RUSADA, Yuri Ganus, held a press conference where he said he was concerned about whether the Laboratory data would be provided to WADA, as its amended conditions require, by 31 December. 

As the IAAF’s requirements are the same and its Council meeting is on 4 December, Russian authorities now have less than a month to provide the Laboratory data to the IAAF. And if the data is given to the IAAF, it would be odd indeed if it was not also provided to WADA.

However the IAAF’s conundrum, outlined above, will not go away. If it accepts that WADA’s decision means RusAF has fulfilled its criteria, it will face a similar backlash to that which has been levelled at WADA. If it maintains that Russia must fulfil the requirements, it will find itself at loggerheads with WADA, and potentially with the CAS.

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