Russian track athletes face new obstacles ahead of Olympics

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2015 10:08 AM
Russian track athletes face new obstacles ahead of Olympics

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia has been told what it will take to get its track and field athletes back in the Olympics, and it entails extra doping tests.

The country's track federation was suspended last month after it was accused of operating a state-sponsored doping program. The suspension could keep Russia out of next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, but the IAAF said Friday that even if the ban is lifted athletes cannot be readmitted to international competition without "at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests."

There are extra requirements in place for endurance events, which have seen dozens of Russians banned for doping in recent years. Endurance athletes must also give three samples to the biological passport program.

With Russia's national drug-test agency and laboratory also suspended for reportedly covering up doping, all samples will be taken abroad for testing, the IAAF said.

No date was set as a target for Russia's readmission, but the IAAF confirmed its delegation would visit the country next month.

"The conditions we have announced leave no room for doubt," IAAF President Sebastian Coe said in a statement. "Russia must demonstrate verifiable change across a range of criteria, and satisfy our taskforce that those criteria will be met permanently."

The Russian track federation said Friday it would comply with any and all conditions set by the IAAF. But acting president Vadim Zelichenok declined to comment on whether he considered the criteria to be fair.

"It doesn't matter what we think of them, we have to comply with them," Zelichenok told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "Once we accept that we've been suspended, then we have to return, and to return we have to fulfill these criteria. It's all very simple."

The IAAF also fleshed out its previous calls for reform of the Russian track federation, which was accused of overseeing widespread doping in last month's report by a World Anti-Doping Agency commission.

The Russian federation must carry out its own investigation into doping, including interviewing any athlete who has represented the national team in the last four years.

Evidence from whistleblowers, including former national team runner Yulia Stepanova and marathon runner Liliya Shobukhova, was crucial to the WADA commission's report, and the IAAF is pushing for reforms to make it easier for athletes to give evidence of doping.

The Russian federation must create "a mechanism for whistleblowing to the IAAF or WADA," while athletes who fail doping tests could be allowed to cut a deal with both organizations for reduced punishment if they provide evidence of other doping cases.

Russian athletes must also cut ties with Sergei Portugalov, a doctor who has been accused of supplying banned substances to athletes, and stop cooperation with the national training center for race walking until it is audited. More than 20 athletes from the facility in the central city of Saransk have tested positive for banned substances in recent years.