11th March 2019

Old news, new issues… IAAF Council maintains RusAF’s suspension

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) today maintained the suspension of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), as its Taskforce advised that two conditions required for its reinstatement have not been met. Those are that RusAF has not met the costs of its suspension, and the IAAF has yet to receive 1,000 samples taken from Russian athletes between 2012 and August 2015, as well as detailed analytical data relating to the samples. Due to the tight timescales involved, it is unlikely that the IAAF Taskforce will be able to recommend that RusAF is reinstated at the June IAAF Council meeting in Monaco, putting Russia’s participation at the Doha 2019 IAAF World Championships in jeopardy.

Last week, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) announced that although it had completed the extraction of the data relating to samples from the former Moscow Laboratory, the data could take two to three months to authenticate. As such, it is possible that WADA may not have completed this task prior to June. If that happens, then the Taskforce would not be able to recommend the reinstatement of RusAF to the IAAF Council meeting in June. The IAAF Taskforce can only recommend action it considers that the IAAF Council should take, and the following Council meeting is scheduled to take place at the Doha 2019 IAAF Worlds, which take place from 27 September.

The head of the IAAF’s Taskforce on RusAF’s reinstatement, Rune Andersen, was keen to play this possibility down. “When the reinstatement conditions are met, we will stand ready to recommend to the IAAF Council to reinstate RUSADA”, said Andersen at a press conference in Doha this morning (video below). “We are in close contact with WADA in order to get access to the data and as soon as we have everything that we need, and the AIU [Athletics Integrity Unit] report back to us that they have everything that they need, we will seriously reconsider our options.”

Requirement 1 – samples & analytical data

The first requirement of the IAAF Council was detailed in the Taskforce’s Report to the IAAF Council in December. In July 2018, the AIU outlined to the IAAF Taskforce that it ‘needs to receive the analytical data underlying the findings reported in the LIMS [Laboratory Information Management System] database (i.e., the actual chromatograms and electropherograms generate during analysis of the samples), as well as the related samples themselves (for the purpose or re-analysis), and the names of the athletes who had provided unattributed samples’.

In December 2017, the AIU received from WADA details of 1,800 samples collected by RUSADA from over 1,000 athletes falling under RusAF’s jurisdiction, taken between 2012 and 2015. ‘The AIU advises that it has been in close contact with the relevant persons at WADA, and has been told that once the authentication process has been concluded, AIU will be given access to the data relating to the RusAF athletes in the LIMS database as a matter of priority’, reads today’s Task Force Report (PDF below). ‘The AIU stands ready to analyse those data, to determine what samples still held in the Moscow laboratory need to be extracted and re-analysed, and ultimately to decide which of the athletes have a case to answer for breach of the anti-doping rules, as soon as practicable. Depending on when exactly it obtains the relevant data from WADA, the AIU will make every effort to complete that task prior to the June Council meeting, but it cannot give any assurances in this regard.’

In short, it will take WADA until at least May – but possibly June – to authenticate the data it has extracted from the Moscow Laboratory. Once this is complete, the data will be transferred to the AIU, which must then analyse the data in order to determine which samples still held in the Moscow Laboratory need to be extracted and re-analysed. All of this must be complete by June, otherwise the IAAF Taskforce will not be able to recommend to the IAAF Council that RusAF is reinstated.

Requirement 2 – RusAF to cover the costs of its suspension

In its Report to the IAAF Council, the Taskforce outlined that RusAF has yet to pay an invoice issued in October 2018. ‘In October 2018 the IAAF invoiced RusAF for the costs incurred through 30 June 2018, and it has just invoiced RusAF for the further costs incurred between 30 June and 31 December 2018’, reads the Report (PDF below). ‘It plans to invoice RusAF for subsequent costs on a quarterly basis (rather than monthly, as previously discussed). RusAF has not yet paid the outstanding invoices, citing financial difficulties. It has been in contact with the IAAF to discuss the mechanics and logistics of payment of these and subsequent invoices.’

According to RusAF, the debt it owes the IAAF currently stands at US$3.22 million, but will grow when the IAAF invoices RusAF for costs from 1 January to 31 March 2019, which it will do at the end of April. The Taskforce Report confirms that invoice will include the IAAF’s costs of responding to RusAF’s July 2018 appeal against the IAAF decision not to reinstate RusAF, which it withdrew in January this year. The Taskforce Report also confirms the the IAAF will invoice RusAF quarterly rather than monthly – an amendment understood to have been requested by RusAF in order to make repayment easier to manage.

“On 5 March, we received a letter from the IAAF indicating the amount of the second part of the debt, which covers the period from 1 July 2018 to 31 December 2018”, said Dmitry Shlyakhtin, President of RusAF in a statement. “The amount – almost $460,000 – includes the cost of the IAAF Taskforce and the IAAF’s legal costs in the cases of appeals by our athletes at the CAS [Court of Arbitration for Sport]. As you may remember, the amount detailed in the first part (2015 to 30 June 2018) was $2.76 million, giving a total of $3.22 million.

“I will explain our position with regard to the payment of the debt. Firstly, we are awaiting the final amount regarding the debt […] I want to emphasise that we only received these figures a week ago. Of course, we have been and are working to find sources to cover this debt […] Let us not forget that due to doping scandals, we lost the title sponsor of the federation. The financial situation of the Federation cannot be called simple.

“A few days ago, we sent to the IAAF for approval its own version of a legal agreement, which establishes the procedure and terms of repayment, as well as other legal grounds for making payments. For RusAF, the conclusion of this agreement is the cornerstone in the matter of debt repayment to the IAAF.”

New issues, old problems

At the press conference and in the Taskforce Report, Andersen emphasised that ‘backward steps’ could further delay RusAF’s reinstatement. In addition to the above conditions, the Taskforce has sought clarification from RusAF regarding allegations that Valentin Maslakov, Head Coach of the Russian athletics team from 2007-2015, is again coaching members of the team.

An investigation by reporters for ARD’s SportsChau (click here for video) found that of 94 coaches now working with national team athletes, 63 coached prior to 2015, when Russia’s State doping programme is alleged to have operated. “This runs counter to the assurances the Taskforce has received from RusAF that it is disassociating itself from the old regime”, said Andersen at today’s press conference.

‘Currently, Maslakov is the senior coach of the Russian sprint team (400m)’, admitted RusAF’s statement. “In the near future, we will conduct a serious analysis of the validity of the accusations in the film made for ARD”, said Shlyakhtin in RusAF’s statement. “At the end of March we will hold a working meeting with Rune Andersen […] where we will discuss this issue. I am sure that we will find a solution that will help to resolve the situation for the benefit of early reinstatement of RusAF.”

Screenshot of Russia’s Ministry of Sport’s internet site, showing Kravtsov as Head of the CSP…

The Sports Integrity Initiative has previously outlined how Alexander Kravtsov remains as Head of the Centre of Sports Preparation (CSP) for the National Teams of Russia, a post he has held since 2009 (as this page details). The CSP is a subordinate organisation to Russia’s Ministry of Sport, and lists Kravtsov as head on this page, last updated on 12 February this year.

Kravtsov replaced Mikhail Prokhorov as President of the Russian Biathlon Union (RBU) in May 2014, and is implicated in an affidavit provided by Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former Director of the Moscow Laboratory, as initiating discussions about half the Russian biathlon team being under the control of Stanislav ‘Stastik’ Dmitriev, a source of Erythropoietin (EPO) for the Russian national team. Dr. Rodchenkov also mentions that Kravtsov was chief of Russia’s Olympic delegation at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, and told him about the positive tests of Irina Starykh and Ekaterina Iourieva for rEPO ahead of the Games (click here to download decision). 

Detail on Kravtsov from Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov’s affidavit…

The continuing role of Kravtsov in an organisation designed to prepare the Russian national teams for competition may be something the AIU wishes to investigate. In Austria and Germany, investigations are taking place into allegations of doping in cross county skiing and other sports. The investigations are understood to involve autologous blood doping, spurred by Johannes Dürr’s admission that he had used blood transfusions, EPO and growth hormones. Dürr was sanctioned after testing positive for EPO at Sochi 2014.

Mountain to climb

RusAF can do nothing about the appointment of Yuri Nagornykh (Юрием Нагорных), Russia’s former Deputy Minister of Sport, to the Board of Lokomotiv Moscow, but it doesn’t help its case for reinstatement. Nagornykh was disqualified by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for life for his role in Russian State doping in 2017, but spoke to students about how to find a job in sport in October last year.

The AIU will have a difficult call to make about whether it is reasonable to expect RusAF to remove all officials that were employed during the period in which State doping is alleged to have occurred in Russia. However, given the above, it would appear that RusAF has a mountain to climb if it is to be reinstated by the IAAF before the Doha 2019 World Championships.

The Sports Integrity Initiative has written before about how WADA’s focus remains on sanctioning athletes and not officials. The continued involvement of Kravstov and return of Nagornykh to key official sporting roles appears to underline that point. 

RusAF was suspended in 2015, four years ago. As such, many Russian athletes seeking to compete internationally today were not involved in State doping, and are being punished for the actions of their predecessors. By not ensuring that the officials that oversaw such a system are removed from sport, RusAF is culpable for ensuring that punishment of such innocent athletes continues. Russian athletes who were not involved in State doping should be considering legal action against their own federation.

You may also like...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This