RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, Aug 20 – With a world championship looming in 2017, athletic’s chief Sebastian Coe is not setting a deadline for Russia’s return to international competition.
Coe, head of the International Associaton of Athletics Federations (IAAF), enforced a ban on Russia last November after an independent World Anti-Doping Agency report unveiled systematic state-sponsored doping in the country.
Only one Russian athlete, long jumper Darya Klishina, was cleared to compete at the Rio Games, and that because she was based in the United States and subject to approved international anti-doping testing.
Many athletes are wondering whether Russia will be at the world championships in London next year.
“I don’t know what the timeframe is,” Coe told AFP in an interview when asked about how the tainted track and field team would return.
“But I didn’t come into athletics wanting to stop athletes competing.
“I’m not an isolationsist by nature. I know this has to be resolved.
“This isn’t the case of saying the federation’s suspended, close the book. That’s not a good position for anybody to be in.”
Despite Coe and the IAAF’s hardline stance on Russian athletes, the International Olympic Committee decided to allow other Russians to compete at Rio despite calls for an outright ban.
But Coe reiterated that he felt the IAAF had made “a judgement we felt was very clearly in the best interests of our sport”.
“But we also have a responibility to make sure that we don’t lose momentum in that dialogue, and yes, we want the reinstatement of the Russian federation.”
Having this month accused Russia of a “cataclysmic failure” over doping that let down their athletes, Coe insisted IAAF criteria had to be met before the traditional powerhouse of track and field could be considered for reintegration.
– Safe and secure –
“Their athletes must come from safe and secure systems,” said the Briton who won Olympic 1500m gold medals at the 1980 and 1984 Games.
“There is a very clear criteria and we need those things met.
“One of the things within that is a cultural shift and that we need to see.”
Coe created an IAAF Taskforce to measure how Russia is meeting up to those criteria.
“I’ve asked the Taskforce to be with us in Rio,” Coe said.
“I met with (Taskforce chief) Rune Andersen and the Taskforce on Thursday.
“I’ve said it has to be one of our highest priorities to maintain that dialogue to get the journey back under way again, to have the criteria in place.
“I’ve asked the Taskforce to remain in place and we need to do that.”
The IAAF has left a bitter taste for some Russian athletes who insist they are clean.
Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva announced her retirement Friday with a bitter broadside at Coe over the Olympic ban imposed on her and her teammates.
“Why am I here and not preparing for the final? Because the IAAF set criteria that were impossible to meet,” said Isinbayeva after being elected onto the IOC’s athletes commission.
“How can one person ban someone from training and living in their own country?
“These are impossible odds; we could not fulfil these criteria.”
Coe simply said he looked forward to working with Isinbayeva and the two other athletes on the IOC Commission.
“She’s been a phenomenal athlete that has been one of the stars of our sport.”