Coe insists Russian athletes unable to compete at Tokyo 2020 unless “absolutely comfortable” they are clean

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From Inside the Games

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has said Russian track and field athletes will not be admitted to compete at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo unless he is “absolutely comfortable” they are clean.

Coe told the Press Association he is “not going to risk or imperil the careers of clean athletes”.

Last week, acting Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) President Yulia Tarasenko claimed it is still possible for athletes from the country to be cleared to compete as neutrals at Tokyo 2020, despite the suspension of the national governing body’s reinstatement process.

Tarasenko, who replaced Dmitry Shlyakhtin after he was among the RusAF officials charged with obstructing a doping investigation, revealed she was expecting Russian athletes to be given the opportunity to participate.

World Athletics froze the reinstatement process for RusAF and warned it would consider expelling the organisation, following the “serious anti-doping breaches” alleged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).

It also agreed that the current system of allowing Russian athletes to compete as Authorised Neutral Athletes (ANAs) should be put on hold.

Russia has since been handed a four-year ban by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), after an investigation found data from the Moscow Laboratory had been tampered with before it was handed over to the global watchdog.

The sanctions from WADA mean Russia’s flag will be banned from major events, including Tokyo 2020, while the country is also set to be stripped of World Championships it has been awarded.

WADA ruled that Russian athletes who can prove they had no involvement in the doping scandal or the cover-up will be able to compete – a condition Tarasenko claims should apply to track and field competitors.

Although Coe would not speculate about whether any Russian track and field athlete would compete at Tokyo 2020, he told the Press Association: “Authorised neutral status has been suspended until we are able to have a federation which is able to endorse that.

“My instinct is until we are absolutely comfortable that we have the continuation of a system we can trust, I am not going to risk or imperil the careers of clean athletes who have probably devoted at least half of their young lives to being at that point.”

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