4 August 2017

Developing a new generation of Russian athletes could take until 2024

Dmitry Shlyakhtin, President of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), yesterday apologised to athletes who lost medals due to dopers, and has said that that the situation will not repeat itself. Mikhail Butov, a member of the RusAF Presidium and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Council member, said that developing a new generation of Russian athletes will not take place before 2024.

“I would like to apologise to all athletes who have had gold and silver medals snatched from them at competitions”, Shylakhtin told an IAAF conference in London on Thursday, reports the BBC. “I can assure you that our new team will fight doping and what happened will never happen again”.

Butov argues that RusAF needs to forget about the current generation of athletes and focus on the future. ‘The removal of Russian athletes from international competition has been going on for almost two years’, he wrote on RusAthletics, which ceased to by RusAF’s official internet site in March. ‘Two years in the life of a professional athlete, if it falls during the peak of their career, is a sentence […] At a meeting of the RusAF Presidium in April, I provoked a discussion about the current generation of Russian athletes, saying that we have to forget about the prospects of many of the current generation of top athletes […] RusAF on the behalf of all Russian sports needs to apologise to them for the mistakes of managers and coaches during past years, and cease to hope for their future success.’

Butov said that as RusAF is viewed as ‘very guilty’ by current elite athletes, it is now necessary to concentrate on the younger generation. He proposes that RusAF should create a new department focussed on developing a new generation of coaches and athletes that are completely independent to the older generation, and do not consider the use of performance enhancing drugs as a possibility. He explains that developing this new generation of athletes will take until 2024.

Butov argues that RusAF needs to act now, rather than waiting for the IAAF to readmit it to international competition. ‘Categorically, it is of no use waiting to see whether some new guidelines of the Working Group of the IAAF are correct’, he writes. ‘Do you think that all is good in athletics throughout the world? Not at all! Our Russian crisis has been superimposed on the world. Yes, there are full stadiums in several competitions in the UK and Switzerland, but that is almost all. Take this year’s “Gyulai Memorial” in Hungary. Excellent organisation, good results, but only 4,000 spectators.’

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