IAAF maintains Russia suspension

AP
Track's world governing body unanimously accepted a recommendation from its Russia taskforce not to reinstate Russia.
AP
AFP

International Association of Athletics Federations president Sebastian Coe gestures as he addresses a press conference in Monaco on November 26, 2017.

Russia's ban from international track and field was extended on Sunday by the IAAF as key Russian sports and political figures continue to deny operating any doping system.

Track's world governing body unanimously accepted a recommendation from its Russia taskforce not to reinstate Russia. That is a blow to Russia's chances of competing under its own flag at March's world indoor championships in the British city of Birmingham.

"It is our responsibility to create that landscape where there is trust," IAAF president Sebastian Coe said.

The current IAAF position of allowing some Russians to compete as so-called neutral athletes after reviews of their drug-testing history, allows "separation where possible of the clean athletes from a tainted system", Coe added.

While the IAAF has been cautiously optimistic about reforms to the Russian track federation, a key obstacle is the refusal of Russia's sports and political leadership to admit any kind of doping program existed. Russia's national anti-doping agency also remains suspended.

While reforms are under way within Russian sports bodies, "the broader question ... is whether they will be able to operate in a system which we can trust, and I think that is what needs to be addressed by Russian authorities", the IAAF's Russia taskforce head Rune Andersen said.

The taskforce's latest report on Russia, published on Sunday, notes "extreme disappointment" at what it says is insufficient communication from the Russian authorities. The Russian government has repeatedly denied having any involvement in doping, and says there was only a smaller-scale plot by a group of rogue anti-doping employees.

Russia was suspended in November 2015 after the World Anti-Doping Agency found evidence of widespread doping. Nineteen Russians were allowed to compete as neutrals at August's world championships, winning one gold and five silver medals.

Russia is the only nation under IAAF suspension, though five more — Belarus, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco and Ukraine — have been on a watch list amid concerns about drug use in the countries.

Coe said on Sunday that Morocco had been taken off that list following a recommendation from the IAAF's Athletics Integrity Unit. "They will be taken off that watch list and be monitored," he said.

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