Russia must complete ‘recovery plan’ – athletics boss

The head of World Athletics has said he is not yet “fully confident” that Russia has completed a “recovery plan” to fully return athletes to the sport

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has reportedly said that bosses “cannot trust the system” which would potentially allow Russia to return from its sanctions imposed as a result of a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) ruling.

A WADA verdict in 2020 ordered Russian athletes to appear at major events under the Russian Olympic Committee banner for four years, although the decision was later halved and is due to run until December 2022. 

Competitors have beed forced to compete with a neutral flag and national anthem at competitions including the summer Games in Tokyo in 2021 and the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics.

The All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) was suspended by the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations at a meeting chaired by British olympic legend Sebastian Coe in 2015.

Now Coe has said that the sanctions approved by his organization will depend on the status of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA).

“Russian athletics will return to the international arena after the recovery plan is fully implemented,” Coe told TASS.

“It is important that progress is monitored. I am confident that I can provide the World Athletics board with such a recommendation, and this is possible only if the recovery plan is fully implemented. We are not yet fully confident that we can fully trust the system.”

WADA’s ruling also banned Russian officials from attending events and prohibited the country from hosting international showpieces.

That would have outlawed Russian president Vladimir Putin from attending the Beijing Games had he not received an invitation from his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.

“It is known that one of these elements is outside our jurisdiction,” Coe cautioned of World Athletics’ potential decision.

“I am talking about the status of RUSADA, which is handled by the World Anti-Doping Agency. But it is an integral part of this process.

“We are moving in the right direction. Now there are two good independent experts working in ARAF. They report to us on what is happening.”

Coe’s organization has doubled the quota of Russian athletes allowed at major international competitions, increasing the number of Russians who will be able to participate in the 2022 World and European championships under neutral status to 20.

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