Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Russia and India have the most athletes currently serving an International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) sanction for doping, with 43 and 34 athletes sanctioned respectively. They are followed by Morocco and Kenya with 16 and 15 athletes currently serving bans.
The IAAF lists 287 athletes as currently serving a ban on its list of athletes serving a doping sanction as of 27 October 2015. They are from 54 countries – 19 of those countries have just one athlete serving a ban, 10 have two athletes serving a ban and eight have three athletes serving a ban. Just under 15% of the athletes currently serving IAAF sanctions are Russian, whilst just under 12% are Indian.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission report, published on Monday, was commissioned to investigate allegations of systemic doping in Russia, but not in other countries. It uncovered a a ‘multifaceted and complex conspiracy involving members of the athletic community within the IAAF and ARAF’, which conspired to hide Russian doping. Sir Craig Reedie, President of WADA, conceded that the report’s findings were “just the tip of the iceberg”.
Russia has indicated it feels unfairly targeted. “Athletes dope because they don’t trust the mechanisms that are responsible for anti-doping control”, said Russian Minister for Sport Vitaly Mutko in an interview with Ruptly TV. “They don’t believe in their independence, because they see things addressed in the same way that Russia is now being treated…We will respect any commissions that are appointed to look into this and we will provide whatever information is needed, but fighting the use of doping is in the hands of specific international organisations – it is up to them.”
The IAAF today confirmed that it is waiting for an official position from ARAF before deciding on a date for its IAAF Council meeting, which will take the decision on whether Russia’s provisional suspension will be upgraded to a full ban. The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) today promised the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that it would force ARAF to reform, so that Russian athletes will be able to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
A total of 22 Russian athletes banned by the IAAF are scheduled to return to competition in August, before the Rio Olympics. Most of these are lower profile runners or race-walkers, however the ROC it is understood that the ROC is worried that its clean athletes won’t be able to compete. It is understood that ARAF could consider an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if the IAAF proceeds to a full ban, which would bar all Russian athletes from competing in the Rio Olympics.
“There are strong grounds for the Russian athletes and, potentially, the federation as well to challenge the validity of the sanction, because the parameters of the ban implicates individual athletes who are innocent”, said Nick de Marco of Blackstone Chambers. After the IAAF Council yesterday voted by 22 votes to one to provisionally suspend ARAF, IAAF President Sebastian Coe was asked if Russia could make the changes in time for its athletes to compete at the Rio Olympics. “It is entirely up to the Russian federation”, he told assembled media. “Our verification team will be tough and will want to make sure that before there is a reintroduction to the sport for their athletes and the federation those changes have taken place”.
However, the IAAF Council also decided yesterday that Russia could 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 changes will be implemented in time for Rio.
The IAAF also confirmed that a World Indoor meeting, scheduled for 14 February 2016 in Moscow, will be able to take place as planned, but would 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.”
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