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Final Straw as World Athletics Hands Russia an Ultimatum For Doping

The World Athletics body has reiterated that they will be removing the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) from its ranks, if it does not comply to pay its outstanding fine and costs before 15 August 2020.

The fine, which was meant to be paid in full by 1 July 2020, amounts to $6.31m (£4.84m). This comes after 2015’s scandal, when Russia’s athletics was suspended after evidence of state-sponsored mass doping was discovered.

The report, commissioned by the World anti-Doping Agency (WADA), found substantial evidence of Russian track-and-field athletes flouting rules and being administered doping substances.

While Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin says the payment will be made before mid-August, a failure to do so would entail removing and banning Russia’s body of their representing athletes in any sporting games, including international competitions and the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

Rune Andersen, who is chairman of the taskforce primarily in-charge of reforming Russia’s operations and reinstatement, has been dismayed that they had seen “very little in terms of changing the culture of Russian athletics” within the last 5 years, since the break of the doping report.

Andersen has stated that the response from RusAF, Russia, and its reform after the scandal has been insufficient. His taskforce has undertaken “an enormous amount of time and effort trying to help Rusaf reform itself and Russian athletics, for the benefit of all clean Russian athletes.”

Any expulsion will have to be approved by the World Athletics Congress.

Russia’s sporting scene has been rocked with increasing controversy ever since the damaging finds of its doping report. In July 2020, Grigory Rodchenkov, best known for being the mastermind behind the doping scandals, has said that all Russian athletes should be banned in the fourthcoming Tokyo Olympics, in an interview with BBC Sport.

Now a whistle-blower, and in hiding from Russian authorities in exile, Rodchenkov said the country had not changed its stripes in regards to doping, despite its ban from all major sporting events for four years in December for its manipulation of laboratory data.

“The same personnel who were smuggling and swapping samples during Sochi (the 2014 Winter Games), they were falsifying all documentation,” he said through the virtual interview.

“It was a progression in falsifying, of this data — an incredible fraud of unspeakable proportion. It shows the country learns absolutely nothing.”

As more of Russia’s efforts have been reported to be lacklustre and uninspiring, news of another scandal broke out within Russian athletics in August 2020.

Yuri Ganus, who was appointed director of the Russian Anti-doping Agency (RUSADA) after the doping scandal, has been accused to have overseen immense financial irregularities during his tenor.

His own board members have called on Russia’s sporting authorities and governing bodies to remove Ganus out of his position permanently.

Ganus was previously appointed as the head of RUSADA during the same time it was appealing for its reinstatement over the aforementioned doping scandal. This comes after one of the conditions for Russia’s body to be reinstated was the appointment of a new director.

The supervisory board of RUSADA are said to be meeting to discuss the allegations against Ganus since. Chairman of the board Alexander Ivlev has publicly stated that the allegations are taken as factual, and further advised the agency’s founders, as well as Russia’s Olympics and Paralympic committees to put Ganus out of his position, the Interfax news agency reported.

WADA has since said it was “extremely concerned” by the board’s recommendations, seeking clarifications from the appropriate Russian authorities.

The case will be heard by the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in November.

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