(ATR) Russia's refusal to accept responsibility for its doping offenses will likely delay its athletes from competing in athletics events until at least November.
The independent taskforce chairman assigned by the International Association of Athletics Federations to determine the country’s readiness to rejoin the sport, Rune Andersen, reported that Russia has yet to demonstrate it has established "a strong anti-doping culture within its sport" or an "environment that encourages whistleblowing".
Andersen added that Russia’s inability to "properly acknowledge" the blatant manipulation of athlete tests – uncovered by Richard McLaren in his investigations and reports – shows the country is not ready to change its culture.
"We need some sort of explanation as to how they will deal with the issues raised by McLaren, so it's not just something they put aside or say it was all falsified, as they did in the beginning, although that has changed a bit," Andersen told the IAAF Council led by president Sebastian Coe.
The council unanimously approved Anderson’s report and will pass his recommendation to continue Russia’s suspension from athletics to all of the IAAF members during its two-day Congress in London that concludes Thursday.
President of the Russian Athletics Federation Dmitry Shlyakhtin will have an opportunity to speak to the National Federations during the Congress, though a direct acknowledgement of wrongdoing is not expected.
Andersen and Coe noted that the country is making progress towards all of the reinstatement conditions outlined by the IAAF.
"It's not that we're not registering any progress - we are moving in the right direction," Coe said. "It's just about the speed of that progress."
One of the primary factors inhibiting Russia’s reinstatement is its inability to conduct "meaningful" doping tests while the World Anti-Doping Agency continues its own suspension of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency. Russia’s WADA non-compliance could be lifted by November. Until that time, Andersen believes the athletics ban should remain intact.
The IAAF Council and IAAF Congress are taking place in London ahead of the 2017 IAAF World Championships. Since Russia's suspension has not been lifted, 19 athletes will compete as neutral athletes in the competition that begins Aug. 4.
These athletes will comprise the Authorized Neutral Athletes team. The IAAF will play its own anthem should any of these competitors become world champions.
Written by Kevin Nutley
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