After a seven-year suspension, the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) was reinstated by World Athletics in March, provided the organization meets 35 “Special Conditions” outlined by the global governing body.
RusAF was suspended in November 2015 due to its state-sponsored doping program, described as “egregious institutional doping violations” by World Athletics. World Athletics then implemented a task force to oversee RusAF on its path to reinstatement.
In November 2022, World Athletics said there was evidence of “cultural change” within Russian Athletics, and now, following reinstatement in March, the Chair of the task force, Rune Andersen, has expressed further content with the changes being made by RusAF.
At the recently-concluded World Athletics Congress in Budapest, Andersen said that leadership was a key factor in RusAF’s reinstatement, with Petr Ivanov returning as president this past December after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) sanctions preventing Russian Government officials from holding sports leadership roles expired.
“First, an independent audit team confirmed that RusAF met all of the detailed criteria and requirements set out in the reinstatement plan that the Council approved in March 2021,” said Andersen.
“Second, RusAF accepted a detailed set of cost reinstatement conditions that are designed to ensure there will be no backsliding from the significant progress that has been made since it was reinstated to membership.
“These conditions are in addition to the special requirements that RusAF would have to meet as a category A member federation under the World Athletics anti-doping rules.
“I told Council that the Taskforce had met with RusAF President Petr Ivanov and the senior management team in person in Istanbul prior to the Council meeting, and was satisfied that they understand the importance of these requirements and they are committed to complying with them.
“I also noted that RusAF has reimbursed World Athletics for all of its costs of the reinstatement process, ensuring that World Athletics and its members are not out of pocket as a result of RusAF’s action.”
The reinstatement conditions, which can be found here, will be implemented by RusAF while being policed by the Athletics Integrity (AIU) at the expense of World Athletics.
Andersen added that “it turned out to be a much longer journey than any of us had anticipated and there have undoubtedly been many bumps in the road.”
“In my opinion, many International Federations could learn a great deal from how you have dealt so firmly and resolutely with these problems in Russia, always staying true to your principles and never shirking from the tough decisions that were made to protect clean sport, your sport,” he said.
Despite the sanctions on RusAF being lifted, Russian athletes are still banned from World Athletics competition due to the war in Ukraine.
Sebastian Coe, who was re-elected unopposed as the president of World Athletics for a third and final term at the Congress, has held firm in his stance against allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals.
Coe, a four-time British Olympic medalist, said he is “not a neutral” in the war in Ukraine, and said the prospect of either Russian or Belarusian athletes returning to World Athletics prior to Paris 2024 was “unlikely.”