Russia promises changes for Rio 2016

  • 15/11/2015
The acting head of Russia's athletics committee, Alexander Zhukov (Reuters file)
The acting head of Russia's athletics committee, Alexander Zhukov (Reuters file)

By Jack Stubbs

The acting head of Russia's athletics committee said he was prepared to resign as a doping scandal threatened to cost the nation its place at the 2016 Olympics.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) voted overwhelmingly on Friday to suspend the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) for widespread and state-sponsored doping.

"The Russian Olympic Committee is ready to take the initiative to reform the ARAF federation and bring it in line with the requirements of the IAAF and anti-doping legislation," committee head Alexander Zhukov was quoted by R-Sport news agency as saying.

"This must be done efficiently and as soon as possible to ensure that our athletes participate in the Olympic Games."

Vadim Zelichenok, the acting head of the ARAF said the IAAF ban was harsh but that he was prepared to resign to help Russian athletics recover from the scandal, Russian news agencies reported.

"I believe, the IAAF council made a decision which was too severe," Zelichenok was quoted as by R-Sport agency.

But other Russian officials said the suspension would be quickly resolved and hinted that they might appeal against the ban at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Lausanne.

"It is a predictable and understandable decision," Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told R-Sport of the IAAF decision. "We need to understand what they want and where they see threats.

"We will develop a joint road map and try do it quickly. I think we can do all the work in two to three months."

ARAF General Secretary Mikhail Butov told R-Sport: "If there is something that doesn't satisfy us, then there is sense in talking about an appeal," he added. "I am sure that Russia will go to the Olympic Games."

Mutko and ARAF members will meet for emergency talks on November 15, Tass news agency reported.

Russia is one of the superpower is world athletics and finished second behind the United States in the track and field medal count at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Russia has been stripped of hosting the world race walking and world junior championships next year.

After a three-hour teleconference on Friday, hosted by its President Sebastian Coe, the IAAF council voted 22-1 in favour of suspending Russia.

The meeting had been called to discuss Monday's report by the independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). It recommended the punishment, which is unprecedented for doping offences.

The report alleged systemic collusion between Russian athletes and both the country's federation and anti-doping authorities and a deeply-rooted culture of cheating that enabled athletes to take performance-enhancing drugs without fear of being tested.

"We will get the change we want and only then will Russian athletes return to international competition," Coe told reporters after Friday's call.

Asked if Russia would be able to make the required changes in time to return for the Olympics, Coe said: "It is entirely up to the Russian federation. Our verification team will be tough and will want to make sure that before there is a re-introduction to the sport for their athletes and the federation those changes have taken place."