Athletics: Russia asks to delay potential suspension

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia’s athletics federation on Tuesday (July 28) sent a letter to the world athletics body, asking them to delay a planned review after it failed to pay a doping fine.

World Athletics is set to discuss the situation regarding the Russian Athletics Federation (Rusaf) on July 30 and may completely revoke its status, ending hopes for athletes to compete under a neutral flag.

This has been a looming threat following the failure by Rusaf to pay half of a US$10 million (S$13 million) fine by July 1, part of a set of sanctions for breaching anti-doping rules.

In a letter to World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe, Rusaf hoped the World Athletics council would consider “postponing the decision on the Rusaf case to a later date.”

It promised the federation is committed to “overcome the crisis” with crucial reforms and noted that “the entire Rusaf platform should be revised to become a trusted ally of World Athletics.”

The federation once again said it had failed to pay the fine on time due to lack of funds.

“The external financial assistance Rusaf expected to receive has not been secured” by the deadline, it said in the letter the federation shared with AFP.

Russian athletics has been in crisis since 2015 when it was banned for repeated doping scandals, and its athletes missed the 2016 Olympic Games.

The world body had frozen the process of allowing clean athletes to compete as neutrals last November but then allowed 10 athletes to be authorised in exchange for the fine being paid.

Yevgeny Yurchenko, who became Rusaf president in February to deal with the crisis, said on July 1 that Rusaf “does not have the money” in a blow to athletes who had hopes to compete in next year’s Olympic Games.

He proceeded to quit two weeks later.

Frustration has been building in the athletics community with some top competitors leaving Russia while others have threatened to quit or switch countries.

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