IAAF says too soon for Russia to return


Russia still has “significant work” to do to repair its anti-doping program before its track and field athletes can be considered for reinstatement ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the IAAF said Friday.

The sport’s world governing body said Russia has made progress but not yet done enough to meet the conditions for readmission to global track and field competition. The IAAF will meet again in May for what likely will be a final decision on Russia’s eligibility for the games in August.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe made the announcement at the end of a two-day council meeting in Monaco, where officials examined the efforts of the Russian federation — known as RUSAF — to reform its anti-doping system.

“While progress has been made, the council unanimously agreed that the Russian authorities need to undertake further significant work to satisfy the reinstatement conditions,” Coe said. “RUSAF should not be reinstated to membership of the IAAF at this stage. The task force will report at the next council meeting.”

The next meeting will be held on an unspecified date in May, three months before the Olympics.

“I think you should conclude that these decisions will be taken at that point,” Coe said, adding that Ethiopia, Morocco, Kenya, Ukraine and Belarus are in “critical care” and also must seriously improve their anti-doping programs.

Mikhail Butov, the secretary general of Russia’s track federation who serves on the IAAF council, accepted the decision and said Russia still has time to fulfill the conditions.

“They reckoned that we need to take yet more steps to satisfy all the demands,” he told Russian news agency Tass. “There is still a lot of time to resolve the issues with the IAAF and the IOC. I think we will have enough strength for that. There are things to work on and there’s a path to achieving our goal. We will work.”

The IAAF suspended Russia in November after an independent report by a World Anti-Doping Agency panel detailed systematic corruption and doping cover-ups in the country, then laid down a series of criteria for the Russians to meet before they can be eligible for readmission.

Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF task force on Russia, backed Coe’s assessment that Russia still has a long way to go.

“One criteria which is very, very important, is changing the culture of doping in Russia,” he said. “It’s a first job that needs to be done.”

The work still to be done centers around “interviewing athletes and coaches named in the WADA independent commission report and athletes and coaches who have had anti-doping rule violations recorded against them,” Andersen said.

He added that there have been “delays in getting effective in and out of competition drug testing up and running” following the suspension of Russia’s national anti-doping agency and drug-testing laboratory.