19th August 2019

Time running out for RusAF’s reinstatement

Dmitry Shlyakhtin (Дмитрий Шляхтин), President of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) met with the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) Task Force on RusAF’s reinstatement on 16 August, to provide an update on steps taken to stop athletes working with banned coaches. However, as the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) is still analysing data and samples retrieved from the Moscow Laboratory, time is running out for RusAF to be reinstated in time for the Doha 2019 IAAF World Championships, which is just over a month away.

The IAAF decided not to reinstate RusAF in June, after it was found that athletes were working with banned coaches; and it was alleged that RusAF officials were complicit in helping an athlete fabricate medical records in order to avoid a ‘whereabouts’ violation (i.e. not being available for testing at a previously specified location). As the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) of the IAAF does not comment about ongoing investigations, it is not known if that investigation is complete. 

One of the original conditions specified in 2015 for RusAF’s reinstatement was that ‘all of the pending disciplinary cases against Russian athletes and athlete support personnel must be resolved’ before RusAF could be restored. The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) retrieved the analytical data from the Moscow Laboratory on 6 March. The June 2019 Taskforce Report clarifies that this data reveals that 1,800 samples were collected from athletes that fall under RusAF’s jurisdiction from 2012 to August 2015. 

This data came from the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) that WADA provided to the AIU in November 2017 (this is the LIMS given to WADA by Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, former Director of the Moscow Laboratory, which the Russian State claims is unreliable). On 30 April, WADA retrieved 2,262 samples from the Laboratory, including 493 samples requested by the AIU.

A statement reveals that the AIU assured RusAF that it is doing ‘everything possible’ to complete analysis of the samples and data prior to the next IAAF Council meeting, which takes place on 23 September, the opening day of Doha 2019. In June, the IAAF clarified that its Task Force will reconvene before then if there is ‘material movement’ regarding the outstanding conditions before then. 

Empty promise

Shlyakhtin was critical of Maria Lasitskene, after the high jumper called for the resignation of RusAF management for failing to restore Russia to international athletics competition. Lasitskene is a member of the Athlete Committee of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), whose President was also critical of RusAF management in a May Open Letter.

“In Doha, we will compete under the Russian flag”, Shlyakhtin told Match TV following June’s IAAF Council meeting. “At least to me, these promises were made”. However with less than a month to go before Doha 2019, this is looking increasingly like an empty promise.

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