Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) has missed a deadline to pay a US$5 million fine to World Athletics, arguing that it doesn’t have the money. As such, it is likely that the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process could be suspended. The ANA process allows Russians untouched by doping to compete as neutrals in international events that fall under the jurisdiction of World Athletics. If the ANA process is suspended, it appears unlikely that Russian track and field athletes will be able to compete as neutrals at the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
“Negotiations with World Athletics, which began on the very first day of my Presidency, have not stopped and continue to this day”, said Evgeny Yurchenko (Евгений Юрченко), President of RusAF, in a statement published on its internet site. “We work in close cooperation with all interested parties – the ROC [Russian Olympic Committee], the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation, RUSADA [Russian Anti-Doping Agency]. As of 1 July, RusAF does not have the money to pay the fines issued by World Athletics. I want to note that the amount required for payment is much larger than the figure that is currently being circulated in the media.”
World Athletics has yet to comment on what its next steps will be. On 12 March, it outlined a package of sanctions that included suspension of the entire Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process unless $5 million of a $10 million fine was paid by 1 July. That decision also capped at ten the number of Russian ANAs that would be allowed to compete in specified World Athletics and European Athletics events such as the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, but specified that there would be no restrictions for international one day events.
The second half of RusAF’s $10 million fine was suspended for two years. “The decision to suspend half of $10 million fine for a period of two years is predicated on the cultural and behavioural change we want to see across all structures in athletics in Russia”, said Sebastian Coe, President of World Athletics, in the 12 March statement. “But we need to be clear, if the initial sum of $5 million is not paid by 1 July 2020, then the entire decision made today will be revisited and could result in the ANA status being revoked indefinitely.”
RusAF cannot expect any financial support from the Ministry of Sport, which has already outlined its position that the fine is a breach of international law. RUSADA has also launched a process to recover legal costs due to athlete appeals against its decisions by athletes – the majority of whom fall under RusAF’s jurisdiction – that were lost at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). As such, RusAF’s only hope is the ROC, and it has yet to comment.