By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian athletics federation has been fined $10 million for breaching anti-doping rules and a maximum of 10 Russian track and field athletes will be allowed to compete at the Tokyo Olympics as neutrals, World Athletics said on Thursday.
Russia’s athletics federation was suspended in 2015 after a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of mass doping among track and field athletes in the country.
Yet some of its officials and senior coaches have since then been involved in doping scandals, undermining the country’s efforts to have the ban lifted.
World Athletics, the sport’s global body governing, said on Thursday it was limiting to 10 the number of Russians who could be eligible to compete in track and field as neutrals at this year’s Tokyo Olympics.
It also reinstated the process by which Russian athletes can apply to compete internationally as neutrals after demonstrating that they train in a doping-free environment.
That vetting process will be once again suspended if Russia fails to pay half of the $10 million fine by July 1, World Athletics said.
World Athletics stopped clearing Russians to compete internationally in November last year.
That followed the provisional suspension of the federation’s president at the time, Dmitry Shlyakhtin, and six other people for having provided false explanations and forged documents to justify missed doping tests by high jumper Danil Lysenko.
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said the body’s council had felt “severely let down” by the federation’s previous administration and that it had approved new criteria for its reinstatement, including additional oversight by international experts based in Russia.
In recent months Russia has stepped up its efforts to have its athletes cleared to compete internationally, including with the appointment of a new federation president and the resignation of its executive committee.
Russia is also in the process of appealing a four-year ban from competing under its flag in many sports at major international events as punishment for having provided WADA with doctored laboratory data.
The Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) has said that the appeal would not be heard before late April and would be closed to the public.
(Additional reporting by Brian Homewood; Editing by Toby Davis)