IAAF suspends Russia from athletics events

Paris, Nov 14 (IANS) The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) voted unanimously to suspend Russia from all international competitions after last week’s revelations by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

IAAF took action after the publication of an independent WADA report that alleged “state-sponsored doping”.

“The Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has provisionally suspended the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) as an IAAF Member with immediate effect,” read a statement by the world governing body of athletics on Friday, reports Xinhua.

With a total of 24 council members taking part in the meeting, which was held by teleconference and chaired from London by IAAF president Sebastian Coe, 22 voted in favour of the sanction and one voted against, as the member from Russia was not eligible to participate in the vote.

A formal process is supposed to be launched next week when the provisional suspension is almost certain to be made permanent by a disciplinary panel.

All Russian athletes and support staff will be forbidden to participate in any international event including World Athletics Series competitions and the Olympic Games under the suspension.

It’s also sure that Russia will not be entitled to host the 2016 World Race Walking Team Championships, which was scheduled to take place in Cheboksary, and the 2016 World Junior Championships in Kazan.

“Today we have been dealing with the failure of ARAF and made the decision to provisionally suspend them, the toughest sanction we can apply at this time. But we discussed and agreed that the whole system has failed the athletes, not just in Russia, but around the world,” commented Coe.

“This has been a shameful wake up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated. To this end, the IAAF, WADA, the member federations and athletes need to look closely at ourselves, our cultures and our processes to identify where failures exist and be tough in our determination to fix them and rebuild trust in our sport. There can be no more important focus for our sport,” said the Briton.

The statement on behalf of the IAAF Athletes Commission added: “The IAAF Athletes’ Commission is extremely disappointed and concerned regarding the recent developments and allegations directed at our sport.”

Former sprinter Frankie Fredericks, head of the IAAF athletes commission, added: “We are angry at the damage being caused to the reputation and credibility of athletics and are united alongside our President to not shy away from the major challenges that face our sport. The athletes will work together to continue the process of cleaning up athletics to ensure those athletes training and competing cleanly are not tainted by the minority.”

“We send a clear message to clean athletes in a dirty system to report any doping or cheating that they see or hear about. We are 100% in support of President Coe and believe that he is the leader that our sport needs to instigate the necessary actions swiftly and strongly.”

International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach has already indicated that he expects Russia to compete in Brazil, and Russian officials will be determined to work to fulfil the criteria required to have the suspension lifted before next summer.

Russia’s sports minister Vitaly Mutko said the suspension was “temporary” and the “problem is solvable”.

The country’s IAAF council member was not allowed to participate in Friday’s vote.

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