14th June 2019

Mariya Lasitskene brushes off ‘threat’ over ANA revocation

Mariya Lasitskene has brushed off criticism from Dmitry Shlyakhtin, President of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) which argues that by highlighting failure to reform, she risked jeopardising the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) status that allows Russian athletes to compete internationally. On Sunday, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) maintained RusAF’s suspension, meaning that Russians who wish to compete internationally will have to obtain ANA Status by proving that they have been sufficiently tested outside of Russia, and also that they were not touched by State doping.

Shlyakhtin also repeated claims that completion of sample retesting before RusAF could be restored was a new condition imposed by the IAAF in December 2018. He also alleged that he had been promised Russia would be able to compete in the IAAF’s Doha 2019 World Championships under the Russian flag, a claim the IAAF denies.

RusAF team meeting

“Questions were asked regarding the old history, we fixed it, learned and changed our culture”, said Shlyakhtin at a meeting with the training camp of the Russian team, a transcript of which was published by Match TV. “But it is not enough. We are beginning to spread rot and even destroy ourselves. I ask the question – why are we doing this? Here, Masha [Lasitskene] did all of that. Masha, if we do not support culture change in Russian track and field, tomorrow may bring a revocation of the status of neutrality. And because of what? Due to the fact that there is a decision of the IAAF Council, which clearly states that the [RusAF] President is struggling with ancient history, but RusAF makes great efforts to move the federation in the right direction. And athletes – no matter who – say that the federation are freaks that are not doing anything. Yeah, this means that the culture has not changed in athletics. Come, let’s withdraw neutral status.

“Masha must understand these things objectively from the point of view of psychology, because she is a leader of the team. As a person who travels abroad, she should understand this better than anyone else. And for them [the IAAF] it is a trump card which they can roll out, as happened with [Danil] Lysenko. Lysenko asked [Elena] Orlova to help because he was not able to speak the language, and the whole federation is accused. One person in the Federation talked with one person from the team.”

The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the IAAF is investigating if RusAF officials were complicit in forging documentation to assist Lysenko in explaining whereabouts violations. RusAF has already given an explanation that Elena Orlova (Елена Орлова) translated Lysenko’s explanation and medical certificate, after which they were sent to the IAAF.

Gennady Gabrilyan (Геннадий Габрилян), Lasitskene’s coach, said he considers Shlyakhtin’s comments to be a threat against the high jumper. ‘Dmitry Anatolyevich, we regard your statement at the meeting in Novogorsk to Mariya Lasitskene as a threat’, he writes in a post on Instagram (below). ‘You are talking about changing culture in the Russian athletics, and above all, honesty […] You seek money and pay it for the tricks of doping schemers, and for pure athletes, you threaten the loss of neutral status. Do you want us to be grateful to you for this? Do you consider this a “change in culture in Russian athletics”? Where is the logic?

‘You pay for the tricks of somebody, and reproach us. RusAF has not yet been restored. I will recognise the changes when the team competes with the Russian flag and anthem. Everything else is just beautiful words.’

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Дмитрий Анатольевич, Ваше заявление на собрании в Новогорске в адрес Марии Ласицкене мы расцениваем как угрозу. Вы говорите об изменении культуры в российской легкой атлетике, а это, прежде всего, честность друг перед другом и перед самим собой. И ни в коем случае не прикрывательство допинговых нарушений и их авторов, за что, в результате, выплачиваете большие деньги и позиционируете как достижение. Вы хотите, чтобы мы за это были Вам благодарны? Изыскиваете деньги и выплачиваете их за проделки допинговых махинаторов, а чистым спортсменам, грозите потерей нейтрального статуса. Вы это считаете «изменением культуры в российской легкой атлетике»? Где логика? Вы платите за проделки кого-то, а упрекаете нас. ВФЛА до сих пор не восстановлена. Изменения увижу тогда, когда сборная будет с российским флагом и гимном. А все остальное-просто красивые слова.

A post shared by Геннадий Габрилян (@gennadygabrilyan) on

Lasitskene said she wasn’t surprised by Shlyakhtin’s attempts to ‘intimidate’ her. She points out that similar action wasn’t levelled against Yuriy Ganus, President of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), after he penned an Open Letter to the Russian Olympic Committee calling for replacement of RusAF management.

‘It is a gorgeous fantasy that they can withdraw my neutral status, because I do not support the actions of the head of RusAF’, she wrote in a separate Instagram posting (below). ‘Apparently, I should especially support the main business of his team – the “Lysenko case”. What awaits the head of RUSADA, Yuriy Ganus, for criticism of RusAF? Shlyakhtin quite sensibly stayed silent on this.’

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Удивлена (на самом деле нет) попытками господина Шляхтина запугать меня. Шикарная фантазия на тему того, что у меня могут отозвать нейтральный статус, так как я не поддерживаю действия главы ВФЛА (видимо, особенно я должна поддержать главное дело его команды – «дело Лысенко»)… Что ждет главу РУСАДА Юрия Гануса за критику ВФЛА, Шляхтин вполне разумно предпочел умолчать…. Прорвемся! Едем дальше… Впереди Хожув-Острава-Тюбинген. #ФантазерТыМеняНазывала @minsport_rf @rusaf_official @rusada_russia

A post shared by Мария Ласицкене (@lasitskene.maria) on

IAAF promise of RusAF’s reinstatement

A statement from Shlyakhtin alleged that the IAAF had changed its criteria to link the outcome of the rechecking of samples to RusAF’s reinstatement. As reported, the IAAF’s March 2019 Council meeting outlined that all cases against Russian athletes must be brought forward before RusAF’s statement could be reconsidered.

“When we met in Oslo, I was told that the rechecking of samples is the personal responsibility of each athlete”, he said at the 11 June meeting with the Russian athletics team, according to the Match TV transcript. “This would not affect the recovery of the federation”. 

Shlyakhtin also said that the IAAF made completion of the retesting of samples a new condition for RusAF’s reinstatement in December 2018, shortly before samples held in the Moscow Laboratory were transferred to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). However, the IAAF’s original reinstatement conditions and verification criteria, published in 2015, stated that ‘all of the pending disciplinary cases against Russian athletes and athlete support personnel must be resolved’ before RusAF could be restored.

“In Doha, we will compete under the Russian flag”, he said at the meeting, according to Match TV’s transcript. “At least to me, these promises were made”. The IAAF told AP that it had made no such promise.

Comment

Shlyakhtin is correct that a war of words will not help RusAF’s speedy reinstatement. On the one hand, he is critical of Lasitskene for drawing attention to issues that RusAF needs to resolve before it can be reinstated by the IAAF. On the other, he publicly claimed that the body responsible for RusAF’s reinstatement has changed its conditions, and has also promised that such reinstatement will be complete in time for the IAAF’s Doha 2019 World Championships.

As the IAAF deny both, this also doesn’t help RusAF’s reinstatement. Shlyakhtin’s public comments perhaps underlines why Yuriy Ganus, Director General of RUSADA, has called for a complete overhaul of RusAF management.

The next IAAF Council meeting is scheduled for 23 September 2019, the opening day of Doha 2019. However, the Taskforce writes (click here to download its Report) that it may reconvene ‘before that if appropriate (i.e., if there is material movement on the outstanding conditions before that, the Taskforce may put a recommendation to Council for consideration before the September meeting)’. At present, that looks unlikely until real changes at RusAF are made.

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