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November 14, 2015

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Home » Sports » Doping

Russia looks to avoid IAAF ban

IN an effort to avoid a ban from track and field, Russia offered “broad cooperation” on doping reforms yesterday, including the creation of a new anti-doping agency.

Track’s governing body is to decide later on whether to suspend Russia from competition following a World Anti-Doping Agency commission’s report that alleged a vast state-sponsored doping program. That would be the first step toward banning Russia’s track team from next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

Sebastian Coe, the recently-elected president of the International Association of Athletics Federations, will not be at the organization’s headquarters in Monaco but will preside from London over a conference call of the body’s 27 elected members.

Russian Mikhail Butov, an IAAF council member and secretary general of the Russian Athletics Federation will “present the ARAF position” before being “excluded from the remainder of the debate and voting”, the IAAF said in a statement.

A simple majority is all that will be needed to confirm a suspension for Russia. But while Russia remains sharply critical of the report, senior officials have become increasingly focused on reconciliation.

“We are prepared to re-certify the laboratory, or to reform, or to create a new anti-doping organization,” Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told Russia’s R-Sport news agency yesterday. “We’re prepared for broad cooperation.”

It was not immediately clear whether the proposed new organization would replace Russia’s national drug-testing laboratory or the country’s national anti-doping agency, both of which were accused in Monday’s report of covering up failed tests by Russian athletes.

Mutko told Russian news agencies that he has asked WADA president Craig Reedie to provide a “road map” that the country could follow. He also said it was possible that Russia would take some action itself ahead of yesterday’s decision.

Mutko said he wanted to solve Russia’s doping problem once and for all.

Although Russian officials are expected to offer an olive branch by admitting to some cases of cheating, the IAAF is under huge pressure to take strong action less than a year from the Rio Olympics.

However, one leading IAAF council member, former Ukraine pole-vaulter Sergei Bubka, warned that it would be wrong to punish innocent athletes.

“All those involved, officials, managers or coaches, must pay the price,” Bubka told reporters.

“But ordinary athletes, those who have nothing to do with this matter, should not have to miss a single competition.”


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