By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Kevan Gosper, a leading Olympic official and a member of the ethics board of world athletics governing body the IAAF, would like to see Russia's track and field athletes compete at the Rio de Janeiro Games in August.
As the IAAF examines whether to lift the Russian federation's suspension, Gosper, the influential Australian honorary member of the International Olympic Committee, said it was his personal hope that their athletes would not be excluded.
An IAAF taskforce is looking into the progress of Russia's anti-doping program following the suspension the federation imposed in November after allegations of state-sponsored doping in a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
"For a country as big and important in world affairs, let alone sport, as Russia, I would rather see a solution to what's been happening and a change of heart, a change of culture and a commitment to the future and still see them participate rather than be excluded," Gosper told Reuters at a sports integrity forum in Melbourne on Monday.
"I think exclusion gets you nowhere. But it's up to the IAAF itself to make that judgment. They've got a very good process of investigation so I'll observe that and see what comes out of it," the former Olympic medal-winning sprinter added.
"But personally, I don't like the idea of excluding good athletes because there's a problem in that sport."
Last month, Russian sport announced reforms it hoped would restore the credibility of its anti-doping efforts.
The five-strong taskforce will report their findings to the IAAF, whose Council will then rule at its meeting in Vienna on June 17 whether to allow Russian athletes back into the fold.
(Writing by Ian Chadband, editing by Ed Osmond)