RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Sebastian Coe, the head of the world governing body of athletics, visited the track for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics on Sunday but declined to speculate if Russia will be allowed to compete there.
A powerhouse in the sport, Russia was suspended by the IAAF in November following a WADA panel report that found state-sponsored cheating.
An Olympics without Russia in track and field would be an embarrassing blow, raising more doubts about doping in a wide range of sports.
Coe has appointed a task force to examine the charges against Russia. He said the task force would report back on June 17, just weeks before the Olympics open on Aug. 5.
"I'm going to wait for the task force to come and report back to us," Coe said, speaking at the Olympic Stadium in northern Rio. "I think it would be inappropriate for me at this moment — given that I've asked them to go away and do that work — for me to start making judgments before I've heard what they have to say."
Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko, writing in Britain's Sunday Times, acknowledged Russia has a "problem" with doping and he said "we are ashamed."
Coe, a two-time Olympic gold medalist at 1,500 meters, is trying to restore credibility to a sport that has lost much of it.
"My responsibility is to make sure that the clean athletes understand that they have in me, somebody who was a competitor, a clean competitor," Coe said.
The three-day test event for track and field ends Monday, and is the last Olympic warmup for Rio. Coe called the new track at Rio's Olympic stadium "very good" and said his staff had been "complimentary" about the set up.
"A great thing about a test event is that it gives you the opportunity to absorb all the things that we need to think about over the next 80 days," Coe added.
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