By Gene Cherry
MONACO (Reuters) - Russia still has not met key requirements for the reinstatement of its athletics federation and an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ban instituted in 2015 will remain in effect, the global governing body said on Sunday.
The IAAF's council unanimously approved the continuation of the suspension, following a recommendation by its Russia doping taskforce
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The decision comes despite denials by Russian political and sports leaders of doping problems in the country.
No timetable was given for reinstatement.
The decision means Russian athletes will not be allowed to compete under their country's flag at March's world indoor championships in Birmingham, England, unless the IAAF's "roadmap" to reinstatement is met.
Athletes whose drug-testing history has been reviewed, however, will be allowed to participate as neutral athletes as they did at August's world championships in London.
Russian leaders' refusal to admit that a state-sponsored doping program existed has been a key sticking point in lifting the ban, which was instituted in November 2015 after the McLaren report discovered widespread doping in Russia.
Russia's anti-doping agency must become a fully independent body that is compliant with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Code and an effective testing plan must be developed for the country to be reinstated, taskforce chairman Rune Andersen told a news conference.
"The broader question is whether they will be able to operate in a system which we can trust," Andersen said.
"It is our responsibility to create that landscape where there is trust," IAAF president Sebastian Coe said.
The IAAF decision comes just days before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board meets on Dec. 5-6 in Lausanne to determine whether Russian athletes can compete in February's Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea.
WADA earlier this month declared Russia's anti-doping agency non-compliant with the WADA Code but it will be the IOC that makes the final decision on the country's participation.
The IAAF also awarded its 2020 world indoor championships to Nanjing, China, and announced that Morocco had been removed from its anti-doping watch list.
Belarus, Ethiopia, Kenya and Ukraine remain on the list.
(Reporting by Gene Cherry in Monaco; Editing by Ian Chadband)