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World Athletics give Russia ultimatum to pay Sh678m fine

Thursday July 30 2020
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International Association of Athletics Federations president Sebastian Coe attends a presser following a meeting of the body's council in Doha ahead of the World Championships on September 23, 2019. PHOTO | STRINGER |

By AFP

PARIS

The global governing body for athletics said Thursday it would expel Russia unless it makes an outstanding payment of $6.3 million (Sh678,825,000) in fines and costs for anti-doping violations by August 15.

The Russian athletics federation has been suspended since 2015, and its athletes were barred from the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Rune Andersen, the head of the World Athletics Taskforce dealing with Russia's reinstatement efforts, said he had seen "very little in terms of changing the culture of Russian athletics" in the past five years.

Andersen said Russia's sports minister Oleg Matytsin had sent a letter on Thursday giving an "unconditional commitment" promising the overdue amount of $5 million in fines and $1.31 million in costs would be paid by August 15. The federation missed the previous deadline of July 1.

World Athletics said it would call on its Congress to meet "as soon as possible" to vote virtually to expel the Russian federation (RUSAF) from the sport, if the outstanding amount is not paid.

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An expulsion would mean Russian athletes are sidelined from international competitions including the Tokyo Olympics next year, including those who had previously been authorised to compete as neutrals.

As well as paying the fine, World Athletics has demanded RUSAF set out a detailed plan for its reinstatement by August 31, including commitments for anti-doping and governance reforms
World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said following a two-day virtual meeting of his federation's Council that dealing with Russia had been "tortuous".

"The history here has been a sad and deeply ingrained one," Coe added.
Coe claimed athletics had been "a lone voice as a sport" in fighting Russian doping.

"We have had to plough the field ourselves on most occasions. But I am pleased we had made a bit of a breakthrough. It is a start, but only a start.

"At least we are now in a position to continue the reinstatement process having at least had a very clear indication that they have accepted the seriousness and severity of the situation.

"The proof of the pudding will be in the reinstatement plan that we have from them."

Leading Russian athletes Maria Lasitskene, Sergey Shubenkov and Anzhelika Sidorova have been openly critical of their federation and in June asked President Vladimir Putin to find a way to allow them to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

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