By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
MONACO (Reuters) – Global athletics governing body IAAF on Sunday extended a ban against Russia’s athletics federation and said Reuters findings on banned Russian coaches still working with athletes would be investigated.
Russia’s athletics federation was suspended in November 2015 after a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of widespread doping in the sport.
Rune Andersen, chairman of the IAAF task force overseeing Russia’s reinstatement efforts, said the Athletics Integrity Unit, which oversees integrity issues in international athletics, would be looking into Reuters findings that two Russian athletics coaches and one doctor banned for doping remain involved with athletes.
“The Taskforce noted recent allegations that banned coaches and a banned doctor continue to work with Russian athletes,” Andersen told a news conference in Monaco, referring to Reuters’ findings.
“If so, that calls into question whether Rusaf (Russia’s athletics federation) is able to enforce doping bans and whether all Rusaf athletes have embraced the change to a new anti-doping culture proclaimed by Rusaf, both of which are conditions to reinstatement.”
Andersen and IAAF President Sebastian Coe said they could not provide a timeline for the AIU’s probe into the findings.
Reuters revealed this week that Russian athletics coaches Vladimir Mokhnev and Valery Volkov, both serving doping bans, are still coaching athletes.
Doctor Sergei Portugalov, formerly the athletics federation’s chief medical officer, has been giving medical advice on nutrition and training in lectures at a Moscow gym despite serving a doping ban, a Reuters reporter witnessed.
Athletes must not receive training, strategy, nutritional or medical advice from banned coaches or medical staff and can face sanctions if they do, according to World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) rules.
Russian authorities have denied the existence of a state-sponsored doping program in the country but have accepted that some senior officials were involved in providing banned substances to athletes, interfering with anti-doping procedures and covering up positive tests.
Andersen said that Russia’s athletics federation had paid $3.2 million in costs incurred to the governing body during Russia’s suspension, fulfilling one of its reinstatement conditions.
He added that progress had been made on another reinstatement condition: the receipt of data from the Moscow anti-doping laboratory.
Andersen said WADA was set to pass on most of the data to the AIU on June 18. The AIU will then determine whether the data shows any anti-doping violations.
Andersen added that the taskforce “does not think reinstatement can be considered” during an ongoing investigation into whether Russian athletics federation officials allegedly attempted to help cover up an anti-doping violation by an athlete.
Despite the ban, some Russians – including two-time world champion high jumper Maria Lasitskene – have been cleared to compete internationally after demonstrating that they train in a doping-free environment.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; editing by Jason Neely and Louise Heavens)