Russia opts to pay €5.5m fine to escape expulsion from World Athletics

World Athletics warn a ban will come into effect immediately if payment is not made

The federation’s handling of the doping crisis and its fallout has angered some of Russia’s top athletes, including the three-times world high jump champion Maria Lasitskene. File photograph: Getty Images

The federation’s handling of the doping crisis and its fallout has angered some of Russia’s top athletes, including the three-times world high jump champion Maria Lasitskene. File photograph: Getty Images

 

Russia has escaped expulsion from World Athletics – for now – after the country’s minister of sport, Oleg Matytsin, stepped in at the last minute to guarantee it would pay a €5.5m fine for doping offences by August 15th.

The dramatic intervention came after Rune Andersen, who leads the taskforce charged with steering Russia’s return to the international fold, said he had spent “an enormous amount of time and effort trying to help Russia athletics reform itself” but its response had been inadequate.

Matytsin’s intervention in the form of a letter to the taskforce has bought Russia some breathing space but World Athletics has warned a ban will come into effect immediately if payment is not made in the next fortnight. It has also told the Russian Athletics Federation it must submit a credible plan detailing how it will reform.

The news was described as a “breakthrough” by the World Athletics president, Sebastian Coe, but he said Russia would have to deliver on its promise to reform the athletics federation in addition to paying the fine.

“I am pleased we have made a bit of a breakthrough. It’s only a start, but they have accepted the seriousness and the severity of the situation. But the proof of the pudding, of course, will be in the reinstatement plan that we have back from them. Only when we are in receipt of a credible report will we feel that we have the green light to take it to the next stage.”

World Athletics decided to issue the unprecedented fine earlier this year after several Russian Athletics officials were banned for fabricating documents purporting to show the 2018 world indoor high jump champion, Danil Lysenko, was too ill to take a drug test – which came from fake doctors operating from a bogus clinic in Moscow.

The federation’s handling of the doping crisis and its fallout has angered some of Russia’s top athletes, including the three-times world high jump champion Maria Lasitskene, who has been among its most vocal critics. Some athletes have said they could consider representing other countries if they are indefinitely barred from competing on the global stage. - Guardian

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