Track and Field

IAAF says Russian athletes could be barred from Olympics

The International Association of Athletics Federations says it would consider sanctions against Russia, including possible suspension of the national athletics federation. Such a move would result in the ban of Russian track and field athletes from international competition, including the Olympics.

Rebuilding trust in athletics a priority, says IAAF president Coe

In a report Monday, a World Anti-Doping Agency panel accused the Russian government of complicity in widespread doping and coverups by its track and field athletes. International Association of Athletics Federation president Sebastian Coe says he "has taken the urgent step" of seeking approval from the IAAF council to consider sanctions against the Russian Athletics Federation. (Andy Wong/Associated Press/File)

The International Association of Athletics Federations says it would consider sanctions against Russia, including possible suspension of the national athletics federation. 

Such a move would result in the ban of Russian track and field athletes from international competition, including the Olympics. 

IAAF president Sebastian Coe announced the decision after the release of a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency panel that accused Russia of state-sponsored doping in athletics. 

Coe says he "has taken the urgent step" of seeking approval from the IAAF council to consider sanctions against the Russian Athletics Federation (VLFA). 

"These sanctions could include provisional and full suspension and the removal of future IAAF events," Coe said, adding he calls the WADA report "alarming" and will do "whatever it takes to protect the clean athletes and rebuild trust in our sport."

Vadim Zelichenok, the acting head of the VLFA, said calls for Russia to be banned from athletics are not "objective" because the organization's management changed in the spring, after the cases in the report. 

Zelichenok added while he "can't decide on behalf of the international federation," he hopes the IAAF will not suspend Russia. 

Zelichenok also told Reuters on Monday that neither WADA nor the International Olympic Committee has the right to suspend Russia from world athletics.

"It is only a recommendation," Zelichenok said, referring to a report from an independent commission set up by WADA which recommended that the VLFA be banned from the sport over widespread doping offences.

Only the IAAF could make a decision about suspending the Russian Athletics Federation, said Zelichenok.  

The VLFA told The Associated Press it will defend itself against WADA's allegation that it oversaw systematic doping by athletes. 

Zelichenok said while there have been doping cases in Russia "I don't believe it is of a systematic nature," adding Russia has "totally blocked" access to doping products following a string of scandals. 

He added he does not believe the Russian government or security services helped to cover up doping cases, and dismissed claims that a little-known Moscow laboratory was used to circumvent doping test procedures, saying that facility does not work with elite athletes.

With files from Reuters

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