Sebastian Coe has promised athletics will continue to play hardball with Russia despite the International Olympic Committee’s decision to welcome the country back into the sporting fold.
Russia has been suspended from track and field since November 2015 because of massive state-sponsored doping, with its athletes needing to gain the approval of a doping review board to compete as neutral athletes.
Only 22 Russians have been granted approval for 2018 so far, with eight of those competing in the world indoor championships in Birmingham – including the high jumpers Mariya Lasitskene and Danil Lysenko, who both won gold in the women’s and men’s events on Thursday night.
And Lord Coe, the president of the IAAF, has signalled that the body’s tough stance will not soften until an independent taskforce, headed by the Norwegian Rune Andersen, is satisfied that Russia has cleaned up its act.
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“We have a responsibility to protect the clean athletes,” said Coe. “And until we are entirely satisfied Russian Athletics has met the objectives we have set – and agreed with them – then our position is not an unreasonable one to have.”
Andersen will give his latest report on Russia’s progress to the IAAF’s executive council on Tuesday. But there is little chance of a change in policy, given he has previously stated the suspension will not be lifted until the Russian Anti-Doping Agency is functioning again and the country’s sporting leaders acknowledge their mistakes.
Coe refused to comment directly on the IOC’s decision to reinstate the Russian Olympic Committee after just a three month suspension, but indicated he was happy for the IAAF to forge its own path on Russia.
“I can’t get into that, we have a very different system,” he said. “It’s different because it’s for the international federation to have the primacy over eligibility rules.
“The IOC accepted that before Rio. And they recognised the primacy of the IAAF to say: ‘No, we’re not satisfied this is a system which meets the criteria we have set ourselves.’ Russia will come back when that criteria is met and not before.”