Omnisport

Russia remains banned from international athletics - IAAF

Russia remains suspended from international athletics competition after the IAAF voted Thursday to extend the ban on the country for state-sponsored doping.

The IAAF Council, voting under the presidency of Sebastian Coe, was unanimous in its decision to uphold the suspension despite Russian President Vladimir Putin having recently approved a law criminalising doping in sports.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) imposed its initial ban on Russia in November 2015 and has twice extended it, in March and June, on the grounds that the criteria set for the track and field powerhouses to be reincluded had not been met.

The Russian athletics federation (RusAF) "has made further progress since June 2016", said Norwegian Rune Andersen, the head of the IAAF Taskforce looking into the steps Russia is taking to combat doping.

But it now had to prove that the IAAF and the Russian Antii-Doping Agency (RUSADA), once reinstated, could "conduct their anti-doping programmes in Russia without outside interference".

The Taskforce will return to Russia in January "to assess the response to McLaren's final report due on December 9", Andersen said in reference to the final report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren into Russia's state-sponsored doping programme.

Andersen will then report to the IAAF Council meeting in February.

"At that time it hopes to be able to identify a clear roadmap and timetable for RusAF's reinstatement," Andersen said.

In the meantime, Russian athletes can still apply to the IAAF doping review board to compete if they can demonstrate they have undergone a testing system, as the US-based long jumper Darya Klishina did successfully for the Rio Games.

The ban has led to Russian athletes missing the Olympics in Brazil and its current extension means the bulk of them will also likely miss the March 3-5 European Indoor Championships in Belgrade.

Putin, in his annual state of the nation address earlier Thursday, pledged that Russia's new anti-doping programme would be ready in early 2017, with hopes that its track and field stars could take part in qualification essential for attendance at the world championships in London in August.

"I hope that by the spring qualifications for the World Championship, which will be held in 2017 in Lausanne, our athletics (federation) will be reinstated," Russian news agencies quoted deputy prime minister Vitaly Mutko as saying.

"I think that this will be done, that it will be reinstated. All the criteria are being fulfilled, people are working. But some deadlines probably still need to pass."