Clearing the bar:  Russia’s Ivan Ukhov, Olympic high jump champion at the London Games in 2012, has applied to compete as a neutral athlete in upcoming events including the world championships in August. Picture: REUTERS
Clearing the bar: Russia’s Ivan Ukhov, Olympic high jump champion at the London Games in 2012, has applied to compete as a neutral athlete in upcoming events including the world championships in August. Picture: REUTERS

Cap-d’Ail — Russia will miss August’s World Athletics Championships in London after their doping ban was extended.

World governing body president Sebastian Coe said Russia, whose 15-month athletics ban was prolonged at the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF’s) council meeting in Cap d’Ail near Monaco, could not be reintegrated into the sport before November.

Double Olympic 1,500m champion Coe was speaking after the IAAF council approved the task force’s recommendation that Russia was "not ready for reinstatement".

Russia has been barred from international competition since November 2015 following a damaging report alleging that state-sponsored doping was rife in the country.

The ban had already been extended in March and then June 2016, preventing Russia’s athletes from competing at the Rio Olympics.

The task force, which was set up to oversee Russia’s reintegration into world athletics, produced recommendations and a road map to reinstatement.

But while "acknowledging several positive developments" at recent meetings in Moscow with the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) and new Russian sports minister, Pavel Kolobkov, the task force also "pointed to some negative developments" including "unhelpful public comments recently made by some Russian sporting officials".

It said RusAF "continues to face practical and legal difficulties in enforcing provisional doping bans and there continues to be very limited testing of Russian track and field athletes at the national level as well as troubling incidents at what testing is taking place".

The road map to reinstatement specifies that "testing of Russian athletes must take place without further incidents or difficulties" and that RusAF takes "demonstrable objective and practical steps to cultivate the clean sport movement".

Coe reiterated the IAAF’s commitment to giving clean Russian athletes the possibility to compete as neutrals, providing they are not tainted by the Russian doping system.

"Our priority is to return clean athletes to competition but we must all have confidence in the process," said Coe.

"Clean Russian athletes have been badly let down by their national system. We must ensure they are protected and that those safeguards give confidence to the rest of the world that there is a level playing field of competition when Russians return," he said.

So far in 2017, 35 Russian athletes have applied to compete as neutral athletes in international competition, the statement added.

Last week, RusAF revealed the names of 31 of its athletes who have made applications to compete as neutral, including world and Olympic champions.

Ivan Ukhov, Olympic high jump champion in 2012; 2015 world 110m hurdles champion Sergey Shubenkov; 2015 world high jump champion Maria Kuchina; and 2014 world indoor triple jump champions Lyukman Adams and Ekaterina Koneva were named on the list.

More than 60 Russian athletes have been added to the IAAF’s international testing pool which, although not guaranteeing those athletes reinstatement, Coe said it does mean the world governing body has a greater "guarantee they have undergone a long-term recognised, independent and fully World Anti-Doping Agency Code-compliant drug-testing programme".

AFP

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