The president of Russian athletics and senior officials have been suspended for “serious breaches” of anti-doping rules, putting Russian track and field athletes’ participation at next year’s Tokyo Olympics in further danger.
The suspensions came after the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) on Thursday accused the Russian athletics federation (RUSAF) of obstructing an investigation into high-jumper Danil Lysenko, a silver medallist at the 2017 World Championships in London.
RUSAF president Dmitry Shlyakhtin and the federation’s executive director Alexander Parkin have been provisionally suspended. Lysenko and his coach have also been suspended.
Russia has been banned from competing as a country in athletics since 2015, after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of widespread doping in the sport.
Some Russian athletes, including Lysenko, have been allowed to compete under a neutral flag. Last year Lysenko had that status removed by athletics world governing body IAAF after he failed to provide the whereabouts information he is required to give to submit to doping tests. AIU said Thursday a 15-month investigation had found that Shlyakhtin and Parkin had been involved in the “provision of false explanations and forged documents to the AIU in order to explain whereabouts failures by the athlete”.
The AIU had already said Lysenko was guilty of three “no-shows” in 12 months. Any combination of three missed tests or filing failures within a 12-month period is considered a violation of anti-doping rules.
The AIU has given the accused until December 12 to respond to the accusations. Shlyakhtin said senior RUSAF officials would meet to discuss their response to the case and who would take over as interim president while he was suspended.
RUSAF spokesperson Natalia Yukhareva said lawyers were examining the accusations. “We only received the documents today (Thursday). Our lawyers are studying the circumstances of the matter and the charges that have been brought. The ban is provisional, the inquiry is ongoing and the details are confidential,” Yukhareva told TASS news agency.
The IAAF, now renamed World Athletics, will discuss Russia’s continuing suspension from the sport in a meeting of its decision-making Council in Monaco today. In September, World Athletics maintained its ban on Russia competing as a country pending analysis of data from Moscow’s anti-doping laboratory.
The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) reinstated Russia in September 2018, on condition that it handed over a huge cache of electronic data from the laboratory. Russia has been forced to deny allegations that it had doctored the data after WADA said evidence of some positive tests handed over by a whistleblower does not show up in the data. WADA is due to make an official recommendation on what sanctions to take against Russia and the issue will top the agenda at a meeting of the body’s Executive Committee on December 9. WADA failed to prevent Russian competitors from taking part in the 2016 Rio Olympics, with the exception of athletics.
Under new rules, WADA has the power to ban countries from major sporting events including the Tokyo Olympics although its decision can be appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
This latest charge will put wider pressure on Russia, which also faces the prospect of missing out on the Olympics and Euro 2020 football if the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) finds doping samples were tampered with at the Moscow laboratory. WADAa’s executive committee will meet on December 9 to assess the latest findings of its independent compliance review committee.
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