Road To The Olympic Games

Track and Field

IAAF doping ban on Russia could be lifted before world championships

​Russia's doping ban from international track and field will remain in place until the Moscow laboratory data has been analyzed, a process that could lead to the country's reinstatement before this year's world championships, starting in late September.

World Anti-Doping Agency's analysis of data from Moscow lab may be completed in April

Rune Andersen, the head of the IAAF's Russia taskforce, says any lifting of the Russian ban from international track and field "might be before, it might be after" the Sept. 27-Oct. 6 world championships in Doha, Qatar, where 2019 European indoor championship gold medallist Maria Lasitskene, pictured above, hopes to compete in high jump. (Martin Meissner/Associated Press/File)

​Russia's doping ban from international track and field will remain in place until the Moscow laboratory data has been analyzed, a process that could lead to the country's reinstatement before this year's world championships, starting in late September.

The head of the IAAF's Russia taskforce, Rune Andersen, said Monday he is waiting for the World Anti-Doping Agency to finish analyzing data from the Moscow laboratory at the centre of the doping coverups. The International Association of Athletics Federations also wants Russia to cover the costs of years of doping investigations.

Andersen said any lifting of the ban "might be before, it might be after" the Sept. 27-Oct. 6 world championships in Doha, Qatar, adding "WADA has committed to getting [the data] to the [Athletics Integrity Unit] as a matter of priority."

The AIU prosecutes anti-doping cases in track and field.

Any return of the team for the world championships would need Russian authorities to continue their grudging co-operation with WADA.

Russians competing as neutral athletes

WADA reinstated the Russian anti-doping agency last year on condition the country turned over the lab data by the end of 2018. Russia missed that dateline but law enforcement in Moscow eventually gave WADA officials access in January. There are more than 1.5 million files, making analysis a lengthy process, though WADA has said it could be finished next month.

After that, WADA wants Russia to hand over athletes' stored doping samples for further testing if the data shows their cases were covered up.

The IAAF is the lone holdout among major sports bodies in maintaining its ban on Russia. The ban has been in place since November 2015, but the IAAF has allowed dozens of Russians to compete as neutral athletes.

Russian high jumper Maria Lasitskene and pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova won gold medals at the European indoor championships this month in Glasgow. Had Russia been competing as an official national team, it would have ranked fifth in the medals table.

Pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova, who won a gold medal at the European indoor championships earlier this month, is among the dozens of Russian athletes competing as neutrals. (Alastair Grant/Associated Press)

Andersen said his taskforce was concerned Russia hadn't done enough to break from coaches who worked with doped athletes.

One notable case is that of Valentin Maslakov, who resigned in January 2015 as Russia's head coach, but is now listed on the sports ministry website as a national team coach for 400-metre runners and hurdlers.

Drug use widespread under Maslakov's watch

"This runs counter to the assurances taskforce has previously received from RusAF that it is disassociating itself from the old regime," Andersen said, using an abbreviation for the Russian track federation. "The taskforce has therefore today written to RusAF and asked for clarifications."

Maslakov has not been banned from coaching and is not accused of doping athletes. However, a series of investigations and failed doping tests have shown drug use was widespread during his time as head coach.

RusAF president Dmitry Shlyakhtin said his federation's debt to the IAAF stands at $3.22 million US and is growing. He added Russia has offered to pay the IAAF in instalments because it has lost sponsors over doping scandals.

Shlyakhtin said Russia would conduct a "serious analysis" of its reliance on coaches who worked in an era when doping was rife.

"I'm sure we will find a solution which will allow the situation to be regulated for the sake of a quick reinstatement of RusAF," Shlyakhtin said.

Broadcast Partners

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.