The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) has written to the sport’s global chief Lord Coe to ask for its near three-year suspension to be lifted “as soon as possible”.
In a letter, RusAF boss Dmitry Shylakhtin tells the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president that he has filed a Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) appeal against the July decision to maintain the ban.
RusAF was set up soon after its forerunner organisation, the All-Russian Athletics Federation, was suspended by the IAAF in November 2015, when an investigation by former World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) president Dick Pound revealed endemic and systemic doping in Russian athletics.
The Pound investigation also led to the suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), as it played a central role in a doping scandal that was widened to the entire Russian sports system in subsequent inquiries, but last week its suspension was conditionally lifted by WADA’s executive committee.
Given the involvement of former IAAF bosses in the cover-up of Russian doping cases, the international federation took a much stronger line against its Russian member association than any other sports governing body.
Russian athletes have only been allowed to compete as neutrals since 2016, and only after they have been carefully vetted by an IAAF panel, while efforts to restructure the sport in Russia have been monitored by an independent ‘taskforce’ led by Norwegian anti-doping expert Rune Andersen on behalf of the IAAF.
At its most recent meeting on 27 July, the IAAF Council voted in favour of the taskforce’s recommendation to extend RusAF’s ban as it had not met three criteria: RUSADA’s reinstatement, acknowledgement that Ministry of Sport officials were involved in Russia’s cheating and independent access to the data and samples still held at the Moscow anti-doping laboratory.
Shylakhtin’s letter, however, points out WADA reinstated RUSADA because it believes the Russian authorities have now met the other two criteria.
“Given that the outstanding criteria for RusAF’s reinstatement…were essentially identical to those that WADA’s executive committee has now considered met, and that time is of the essence, we respectfully request that the IAAF decide to reinstate RusAF as soon as possible,” he wrote.
“In the meantime, however, RusAF has no choice but to protect its rights and, accordingly, has filed today an appeal before the Court of Arbitration for Sport against the IAAF Council’s decision of 27 July.”
He then explained that RusAF is “guided solely by interests of fairness, justice and equal treatment of clean athletes” and was open “to productive dialogue in good faith aimed at finding an out-of-court solution to resolve to the current situation”.
But in a statement, an IAAF spokesperson said: “The IAAF has, from the very beginning, been clear on its reinstatement requirements and processes overseen by an independent taskforce.
“We stand behind the decisions we have made and are very confident of our legal position. We will put the required resources behind robustly defending any challenge to the suspension of RusAF, whether at CAS or elsewhere.
“The only way for RusAF to achieve reinstatement is by satisfying the reinstatement conditions to the satisfaction of the IAAF Council.”
The 27-strong council’s next meeting is scheduled for December.