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  • ATR First: IAAF Taskforce Chief 'Disappointed' with Russia Progress


    Rune Andersen at Birmingham City Council House (ATR)
    (ATR) Rune Andersen tells Around the Rings that Russia’s failure to acknowledge the McLaren Report on state-sponsored doping “is a big issue”.

    Speaking exclusively to ATR, the Norwegian anti-doping expert expressed grave concerns about the pace of Russia’s progress towards meeting conditions for the reinstatement of its athletics federation. RusAF has been suspended by the IAAF since November 2015 over evidence of state-sponsored doping, later detailed in the bombshell McLaren Report.

    Andersen said Russia had “accomplished a lot” but warned that the country’s sports authorities had just four months to comply with the necessary criteria for reinstatement or face possible expulsion from the global athletics family. At a press conference Tuesday, he said Russia needed to fulfill reforms by the council's July meeting or risk the ultimate sanction.

    “Yes, of course we are disappointed. We would have liked to see them reinstated a long time ago but that hasn’t happened. There are still those remaining issues,” he told ATR at Birmingham City Council House, venue for a two-day IAAF Council meeting.

    Andersen said the suspension would only be lifted once the Russian Anti-Doping Agency is fully operational again; it has not done enough to achieve WADA compliance. “Part of that decision is acknowledgement of the McLaren Report. That is a big issue both for us and for WADA,” Andersen said.

    Other unresolved problems are the lack of a Russian doping test distribution plan for 2018 and
    fixing a legal issue to allow the country to enforce bans on any of its athletes found guilty of doping violations.

    Commenting on possible further punishments, he said: “We are saying we as a taskforce will consider next steps. Those steps might be expulsion… well a proposal to the congress because that has to be decided by the congress.”

    Other sanctions may include withdrawing permission for Russian athletes to compete as neutrals at global athletics competitions, measures he outlined Tuesday at a press conference featuring IAAF president Sebastian Coe.

    Asked if there was a strong possibility the IAAF might be forced to expel Russia, Andersen said: “It’s impossible to say now. At that stage [in July] we will consider how far we have got from now on until then. We will consider it and the council… it will be a whole range of considerations.”

    Andersen is calling for an urgent meeting with Russia’s sports authorities to accelerate the reforms process. “We have to meet with them very quickly,” he told ATR, saying he hoped this could happen later in March.

    WADA president Craig Reedie tells ATR that Russia has significant work ahead to become compliant.

    “The Russian authorities have still to complete two conditions on the agreed road map to complete RUSADA compliance: to recognize the results of the McLaren and now Schmid commissions and to arrange access to the Moscow laboratory,” he said.

    “We work with them on both issues but progress is slow,” he added.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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