AIU says World Athletics should “consider imposing the severest possible consequences” if charges are upheld
World Athletics has described the charges brought by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) against the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) for breach of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules as “extremely serious”, with expulsion from World Athletics membership among the consequences listed for consideration if the charges are upheld.
The AIU Board has also made recommendation to the World Athletics Council that the suspension of the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process should be maintained until the charges are finally determined.
If the charges are upheld, World Athletics should “consider imposing the severest possible consequences”, the AIU added, although the governing body said it will not be proposing RusAF’s expulsion at this time.
“These recommendations were made by the AIU Board after reviewing RusAF’s response to the Notice of Charge issued on 21 November 2019 which alleged a number of breaches by RusAF of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules relating to the involvement of RusAF officials and representatives in the submission of forged documents and false explanations to the AIU in connection with the Whereabouts Failures case of Russian athlete, Danil Lysenko,” reads an AIU press release in part.
“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,” it adds in part. “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.”
Following publication of the AIU press release, World Athletics said they will be reviewing the files submitted to them by the AIU over the next couple of days.
World Athletics added that if RusAF continues to deny the charges, it is for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to resolve the dispute. If CAS upholds the charges, the matter would return to the World Athletics Council to consider which sanctions to impose.
As a first step, World Athletics said they will be sending a letter to the acting RusAF president and to the new Russian Minister for Sport, explaining their options.
“If they maintain their current ‘blanket denials’ approach, we will put all necessary resource into presenting the charges to the CAS,” said World Athletics. “Council will not consider any applications for ‘authorised neutral athlete’ status in the meantime.”
The global governing body added that if RusAF and its former officials admit the charges, Council will decide on a new process for Russian athletes to apply for ‘authorised neutral athlete’ status moving forward. Sanctions will be considered, but at that stage World Athletics said it would not include any proposal to expel RusAF from membership, but instead decide on a new process for its reinstatement.
The suspension of RusAF as an IAAF (World Athletics) member has been in place since November 2015 and it came after a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Independent Commission report detailed findings including a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” in Russian athletics.