Russian anti-doping head demands purge of track federation
MOSCOW (AP) — The entire management and coaching staff of Russia’s athletics federation should be removed from their posts, the CEO of the country’s anti-doping agency demanded on Monday.
In a bid to end a years-long stalemate over drug use which has led to many Russian stars being barred from major athletics events, Yuri Ganus said the whole hierarchy needed to be replaced, including federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin.
In an open letter to the Russian Olympic Committee, Ganus argued this would ensure a full Russian athletics team at next year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
The federation “needs real changes, and it’s long past time for everyone to leave the world of illusion,” Ganus wrote. “We need to stop fooling not only all those around us, but ourselves first of all.”
Ganus argued an “external administrator” should be imposed by a specially created panel of Russian officials, athletes and representatives of international track bodies. National team coaches and the heads of sports schools linked to doping should also be replaced, he proposed.
Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov was dismissive.
“RUSADA’s proposals are not timely,” he told state news agencies, using an abbreviation for Ganus’ agency.
Kolobkov said the Russian Athletics Federation was on course for reinstatement anyway. “Work is ongoing. The road map has virtually been completed,” he added.
Federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin echoed Kolobkov’s statement. A three-and-a-half-year suspension is “no little time,” he told state news agency Tass, but said a slate of reforms had been passed.
The federation was suspended in November 2015 after investigations found widespread doping.
Talks on its reinstatement have been held up by wrangles over anti-doping reforms, financial issues, and waiting for the World Anti-Doping Agency to report on investigations into past doping.
The IAAF is the lone holdout among major sports bodies in maintaining its ban on Russia. However, the IAAF has allowed dozens of Russians to compete internationally as neutral athletes without Russian uniforms or the national anthem.
Russian high jumper Maria Lasitskene, pole vaulter Anzhelika Sidorova and hurdler Sergei Shubenkov are among those who have won major championship medals as neutrals and have eyes on the podium in Tokyo next year.
However, even as the federation has tried to convince the IAAF to lift the ban in full, RUSADA has raised concerns about how deep the reforms really go.
A RUSADA investigation last year found world race walking silver medalist Sergei Shirobokov, considered one of Russia’s brightest young talents, had been training with a coach banned for life over numerous doping cases. He and four teammates had their IAAF neutral status revoked.
The world indoor high jump champion, Danil Lysenko, lost his neutral status last year and faces a possible ban for missing three drug tests. On Thursday, sprinter Igor Obraztsov was removed from the neutral list for failing a drug test.
The IAAF said in March that Russia’s suspension could remain in place until after the Sept. 27-Oct. 6 world championships in Doha, Qatar, until it’s satisfied WADA investigations are complete. The IAAF didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Ganus’ letter.
The Russian Olympic Committee said on Monday it was setting up a new working group on reinstatement for the federation, in line with one of Ganus’ proposals.
However, the ROC did not mention Ganus’ plan in its statement, and instead said the move was in response to a request from Russian President Vladimir Putin to help the federation get restrictions on the national team lifted. The ROC didn’t comment on the federation’s leadership.