14th August 2020

Russia’s Ministry of Sport pays RusAF fine and costs

Russia’s Ministry of Sport has sent a one-off subsidy to the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF), which said had enabled it to pay a US$5 million fine and $1.3 million in associated costs to World Athletics on 12 August. It is understood that the Ministry provided the payment in this way to avoid breaching Russia’s Federal Law on Public Associations.

‘Taking into account the crisis situation in Russian athletics, the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation made an unprecedented decision to allocate a one-time subsidy to the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) for the development of the sport, including repayment of the debt to World Athletics’, read a statement from the Ministry. ‘One of the priorities of the Ministry of Sports is the development of athletics in the country (elite and mass participation); the preparation of a sports reserve; the protection of the interests of Russian athletes; the restoration of the right of Russian athletes to participate in international competitions; the renewal of RusAF’s full membership of World Athletics’.

Article 17 of the Federal Law on Public Associations (Федерального закона oб общественных объединениях), prohibits the ‘interference of public authorities and their officials in the activities of public associations, as well as interference of public associations in the activities of public authorities and their officials’. But it does also mandate that ‘State support can be expressed in the form of targeted financing of socially useful programmes of public associations at their request’.

It is understood that this prohibition on the Ministry of Sport directly financing a ‘public association’ such as RusAF is the reason why its payment was designated as a subsidy for the development of the sport. The provision allowing the State fo finance ‘socially useful programmes’ not only allows the Ministry of Sport to make this payment, but also to finance the Centre of Sports Preparation for the National Teams of Russia (CSP), which makes donations for major Russian athletics events such as the Summer and Winter Championships. Under this provision, the Ministry of Sport can also be involved with the financing of new stadiums and training facilities through State programmes. 

On 12 March, World Athletics fined RusAF $10 million for fabricating medical records and falsifying information in order to assist high jumper Danil Lysenko cover up a ‘whereabouts’ anti-doping rule violation (ADRV). Half of the fine and associated court costs were due to be paid by 1 July. RusAF failed to meet that deadline, and World Athletics resolved to expel RusAF if the Ministry of Sport failed to pay the $6.3 million by 15 August, as promised in a 30 July letter.

RusAF said that it had paid the fine and associated costs, totalling $6.3 million, on 12 August. ‘After payment of the fine, RusAF must submit a plan for introducing a culture of zero tolerance for doping to World Athletics by 31 August’, read a statement. ‘The plan is being developed by a Working Group, which includes representatives of RusAF, the Russian Olympic Committee [ROC], the Ministry of Sports and RUSADA [Russian Anti-Doping Agency]. The plan will be based on the recommendations of World Athletics as reflected in the decisions of the World Athletics Council on 12 March, and must be agreed no later than 30 September.’

World Athletics has yet to comment on the Working Group put together by RusAF, and has yet to confirm that RusAF has paid its fine. The composition of the Working Group is controversial. Along with the Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC), the ROC is one of two Founders of RUSADA and will hold a meeting on 28 August on whether to accept the RUSADA Supervisory Board’s recommendation to dismiss Yuriy Ganus (Ю́рий Га́нус), RUSADA’s Director General. Ganus has alleged that one of the reasons the ROC and RPC are keen to remove him from his post is that he refused their request, made at a 29 April meeting, to give athletes five minutes advance notice about doping tests.

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