Russia given August deadline to pay fine or face expulsion

World Athletics give Russia Federation 15 days to clear its doping fine.

By Evelyn Watta

World Athletics says the Russian athletics federation (RusAF) will be expelled from the world governing body if it does not pay a fine for breaking anti-doping regulations by 15 August.

In a letter to World Athletics sent on Thursday, the Russian Minister of Sport Oleg Matytsin promised to pay the outstanding amount of U.S. $6.31 million including legal costs, and also send a detailed report on RusAF’s planned reforms by 31 August.

“This has been a torturous problem. I am not going to sit here and say it’s been anything other than frustrating both for the (World Athletics Russia) Taskforce (on Russia) and my Council colleagues,” World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said at a media conference following a World Athletics Council meeting by teleconference.

“We are now in a position to continue the reinstatement process, having had a clear indication that they have accepted the seriousness and severity of the situation. But the proof of the pudding will be in the reinstatement plan that we asked from them," he added.

"The Taskforce will have the opportunity once we are in receipt of that report by 31 August, to have another month to make sure it is an absolutely credible report and only then will we feel that we have the green light to take it to the next stage.”

Russia now 'recognises sanctions'

Coe acknowledged that it has been a difficult and lengthy process since Russia was banned from athletics in 2015 for systematic doping.

Since then, only a few Russian athletes have been allowed to compete as neutral athletes. No neutral athletes will be cleared to compete unless the conditions are met.

“We set out on a journey knowing that we are coming from way behind, that you don’t remedy the situation overnight, and that the history here has been a sad and a deeply ingrained one.

“We have made a bit of a breakthrough, it’s only a start but at least it does allow us now to recognise that the sanctions that were given by the Council in March has been recognised. These gave the council some confidence," Coe added.

"No change in culture of Russian athletics"

The Russia Taskforce's report to the Council says the Taskforce has seen “very little in terms of changing the culture of Russian athletics” in the past five years.

“This morning the Russian Minister gave his unconditional commitment that the outstanding $6.3 million would be paid in full by no later than 15 August 2020. He has also indicated his intention to support the reinstatement plan moving forward," the Taskforce chairman, Rune Andersen, noted.

An expulsion would block the possibility of Russian athletes competing as neutral athletes for the 2020 season, including in the upcoming Diamond League season. Some of Russia's top athletes who have been competing neutrally have suggested they may consider switching to represent other countries should Russia be expelled from athletics.

Any such expulsion would have to be approved by World Athletics' Congress.