Russia faces expulsion threat as athletics chiefs pour scorn on response to Lysenko case charges

By Sports Desk January 29, 2020

Russia faces the threat of total expulsion from international athletics if charges relating to an anti-doping case are upheld against senior federation figures.

That was the stark warning issued on Wednesday by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), which urged World Athletics to get tough if RusAF officials linked to the Danil Lysenko saga are shown to have been involved in anti-doping rule violations.

High-jumper Lysenko, a silver medallist at the 2017 World Championships, was competing as a neutral athlete following the suspension of RusAF when, in June 2018, he was notified of a third 'whereabouts' failure and served with a provisional suspension.

The AIU investigated the explanations provided by Lysenko, concluding the explanations were false and supported by forged documents, leading to charges against RusAF figures including president Dmitry Shlyakhtin and executive director Alexander Parkin, plus the athlete and his coach Evgeniy Zagorulko.

In all, seven individuals were charged, and RusAF was given until December 12 to respond, with that deadline later extended.

However, the AIU delivered a scathing verdict on RusAF's reaction to the charges on Wednesday, accusing it of trying to deflect blame and failing to demonstrate any accountability.

The AIU said in a statement: "The AIU board finds it regrettable that, in the face of clear and compelling evidence, RusAF has chosen not to admit to the acts and omissions of the employees, directors and representatives of RusAF for which it is liable under the anti-doping rules.

"In the AIU board's view, a responsible member federation in the circumstances would have admitted the charges and shown contrition for its conduct, but RusAF has chosen to do neither.

"Instead, RusAF has gone to great lengths to deny any involvement in the matter, blame others and attack the process. This approach is deeply concerning for the AIU board as it seems to indicate that the current leadership of the federation is merely a continuation of the former."

Russia's situation could result in none of its track and field athletes being allowed to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where they are already unable to enter under the country's flag.

Until charges in the Lysenko case are resolved, the AIU recommended suspending the practice of allowing Russians who meet certain criteria to compete as neutral competitors.

Pointing to RusAF's "total lack of contrition for its conduct" and "the fact that the previous sanctions of World Athletics have apparently failed to deter RusAF from reoffending", the AIU said the World Athletics Council should "consider recommending to the World Athletics Congress that RusAF be expelled from membership".

Responding to the AIU declaration, World Athletics said Russia would consider the call for expulsion if RusAF continues to deny any fault and if the Court of Arbitration for Sport upholds the charges.

World Athletics - previously known as the IAAF - said it would write to the acting RusAF president and to Russia's sports minister warning of the potential consequences of "their current 'blanket denials' approach".

However, an olive branch will also be offered to Russia.

The letter will spell out that if the charges are admitted to the World Athletics Council, then RusAF would face sanctions but would avoid expulsion, while a new process to reinstate the suspended membership of RusAF would also be decided upon.

RusAF has been out in the cold since 2015.

Importantly, World Athletics also said it would "decide on a new process for Russian athletes to apply for 'authorised neutral athlete' status moving forward", meaning Tokyo 2020 may not close its doors entirely to competitors from the country.

Related items

  • Wayde van Niekerk inspired by Liverpool as athletics star hopes football season is concluded Wayde van Niekerk inspired by Liverpool as athletics star hopes football season is concluded

    Athletics star Wayde van Niekerk hopes the Premier League season can be concluded with a Liverpool title triumph and admits he finds Jurgen Klopp's side inspiring.

    The Reds were 25 points clear at the top of the table with only nine games left when English football was paused due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    With no imminent return in sight as the United Kingdom struggles to bring an end to the rise in confirmed cases and fatalities, it has been suggested the top-flight season may have to be declared void.

    Van Niekerk, the 400-metre Olympic champion and world-record holder, has seen his own plans for 2020 upended following the decision to postpone the Tokyo Games to next year.

    However, the South African is hopeful the Premier League will eventually be able to continue, giving him the chance to watch Liverpool end a 30-year wait for the title.

    "I doubt it will be cancelled," he said to Stats Perform. "There should be a way that they can bring closure to the Premier League.

    "The team has come so far and done so well; I think all of us are just waiting. Seeing the team pick up the trophy... it's so well-deserved. They've been working so well, and you see the growth in the team.

    "I think it's going to be chaotic if they don't finish the Premier League. I think the best way is to find a way to finish the season so that the team that deserves to win can win and then focus on the next season.

    "It's the same with every other sport: I think it's very important for the leaders of the specific sports to find healthy ways, or reasonable ways, to close off the seasons so the fans can be happy, the players can be happy, and everyone who loves the sports can be happy."

    Van Niekerk visited Anfield last October while recovering from injury and was able to meet some of the first-team squad.

    Despite his hectic 2020 schedule, the 27-year-old says he never misses a Liverpool match and is grateful to Klopp and the players for keeping fans truly engaged.

    When asked if he had a message for Klopp and the team before the season possibly returns, he said: "My message is more of a congratulations than anything else.

    "The team has been doing amazing and I've been so inspired and excited, wanting to go and watch games, and I don't miss a single game.

    "I think it's just a message of thank you to the coach and the entire team and staff, always thinking of us and putting up high-quality games for us as fans that we can enjoy and appreciate. That's my message to the team: just a thank you."

  • Coronavirus: World Athletics in discussions to find new dates for Oregon 2021 Coronavirus: World Athletics in discussions to find new dates for Oregon 2021

    World Athletics is working with organisers for the 2021 World Championships to find new dates after showing its support for the rescheduling of the Olympic Games.

    It was confirmed on Monday the Tokyo Olympics will take place between July 23 and August 8, 2021, with the Games – which were due to start on July 24 of this year – having been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Discussions are now ongoing to find an alternative gap in the calendar for the Worlds in Oregon, which are scheduled to be held between August 6 and 15, 2021, as it stands.

    World Athletics are also liaising with the relevant parties of the Commonwealth Games and European Championships, both of which are slated for 2022.

    A World Athletics statement read: "We support the new 2021 dates for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games announced today by the Japanese organisers and the IOC. 

    "This gives our athletes the time they need to get back into training and competition. 

    "Everyone needs to be flexible and compromise and to that end we are now working with the organisers of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon on new dates in 2022 for our World Athletics Championships.  

    "We are also in discussions with the Commonwealth Games Federation and the European Championships.  

    "We would like to thank our Oregon 21 Organising Committee, their stakeholders and our partners for their collaboration and willingness to explore all options."

  • We don't have to do things the same way – Coe suggests athletics changes following coronavirus crisis We don't have to do things the same way – Coe suggests athletics changes following coronavirus crisis

    World Athletics president Sebastian Coe says track and field must not be afraid to "think bigger" after the coronavirus pandemic passes.

    On Tuesday, it was confirmed the Tokyo Olympics – which had been due to start in July – has been postponed to 2021 due to the ongoing crisis.

    World Athletics has welcomed the decision, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) having initially been reluctant to postpone the showpiece event.

    It appears inevitable the World Athletics Championship, due to be held in Oregon in August 2021, will be nudged back a year to 2022 as a result.

    Though disappointed at the 2020 schedule being hugely affected, Coe suggested there is now an opportunity to reinvigorate athletics.

    "When we get through this, and we will, we will be braver and more innovative," Coe wrote in an open letter on Friday.

    "We will be more collaborative and resilient. We will be stronger and more tolerant. We will be more global, not less.

    "In sport we have a unique opportunity not to tiptoe around things and tweak at the edges. We have the chance to think bigger, to rip up the blueprints and banish the 'that's the way we've always done it' mentality."

    Coe added: "The situation the world finds itself in today is a huge wake-up call for all of us – as human beings, as businesses and as sport. We should capitalise on this and work out new ways of delivering events, create and plan new events that embrace the many as well as the few.

    "We can use this time to innovate and extend our sport across the year. Rather than just focusing on one-day meetings and one-day road races at one end of the spectrum and 10-day extravaganzas at the other end, we should look at weekend festivals of running, jumping and throwing that take advantage of the southern and northern hemisphere seasons.

    "We should work with governments to re-establish sport in schools, rebuild club structures, incentivise people to exercise and get fit. This should and could be the new normal. We don't have to do things the same way.

    "The priority for all of us right now is to contain the pandemic, stay healthy and stay home. But where we can continue to drive our sport forward, we must."

    Coe also revealed his organisation will do all it can to ensure the outdoor season of one-day meetings goes ahead as soon as it is safe, with Diamond League events having been postponed until at least June.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.