Athletes back IAAF decision to ban Russia
‘We are angry at the damage being caused to the reputation and credibility of athletics’
IAAF leaders have suspended the Russian federation, keeping the country’s track and field athletes out of international competition for an indefinite period that could include next year’s Olympics in Brazil. Phtoograph: Lionel Cironneau/AP
Leading athletes have backed the decision of the IAAF Council to hand Russia a provisional ban from all international athletics competitions with immediate effect.
Members voted by a 22-1 majority in favour of the provisional sanction, which comes in the wakes of damning revelations of cover-ups by the World Anti-Doping Agency last week.
In a statement issued on behalf of the IAAF Athletes Commission, former sprinter Frankie Fredericks said: “The IAAF Athletes’ Commission is extremely disappointed and concerned regarding the recent developments and allegations directed at our sport.
“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.”
And the move was backed by Paula Radcliffe, herself the subject of unfounded suspicions earlier this year, who tweeted: “The right decision, time for serious reform and proud to stand behind our Athlete Commission statement.”
The move — which is almost certain to be made permanent by a disciplinary panel - will see Russia lose hosting rights to next year’s Race Walking World Cup and the World Junior Championships, due to take place in Cheboksary and Kazan respectively.
But while, as it stands, the sanction also rules Russia out of competing in next year’s Rio Olympic Games, early indications are that the Russians will accept their punishment and work towards fulfilling the criteria required in order to be reinstated in time.
IAAF president Sebastian Coe described the events leading up to the vote as a “shameful wake-up call” and conceded authoritities including the IAAF and WADA had to “look closely at ourselves.”
Coe, who hosted the meeting via teleconference in London, said: “Today we have been dealing with the failure of ARAF (the Russian athletics federation) 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.
“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.”