©Copyright – 2020 – Athletics Illustrated

Sri Chimnoy once wrote, “Every second a seeker can start over, for his life’s mistakes are initial drafts and not the final version.” Sri Chimnoy wasn’t likely referring to the War and Peace-like tome that Russia has written so far.

Be that as it may, the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) has been handed an olive branch by World Athletics during the latest World Athletics Council.

To start with, RusAf must fulfill its promises then the process could begin by March 2021. 

Where have we heard this one before?

RusAF narrowly avoided being expelled altogether by World Athletics during its previous Council in July but it has been given the chance to end the five-year-long suspension.

Rune Andersen, heads the World Athletics Taskforce on restoring Russia’s membership. He held breakout meetings with Ivanov on Tuesday. He described them as open and constructive.

“If he puts the necessary commitment and resources behind the project, and wins the support for that effort of RusAF’s key stakeholders in Moscow and in the regions, then the Taskforce and the international experts stand ready to help him achieve the reinstatement of RusAF’s membership of World Athletics and the re-introduction of its athletes to international competition,” Andersen said.

By a timetable created in Sept., RusAF will have to meet the deadline of March 1, 2021. Meanwhile, they will have to continue to pay the costs associated with the reinstatement process.

More corruption in Rusada and RusAf

Just one month ago, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) suspended former Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) officials Elena Ikonnikova and Elena Orlova for six and eight years, respectively. They were banned due to their participation of obstructing an anti-doping investigation of world champion high jumper Danil Lysenko.

President Dmitry Shlyakhtin is one of the seven RusAF members to be suspended. He was charged with obstructing the anti-doping investigation. He allegedly forged documents to explain Lysenko’s missed tests.

Six terabytes of digital information was collected and analysed. Over 7,000 documents were translated from Russian to English during the investigation. However, it took the investigative team several attempts to get into the Moscow Laboratory, giving the Russian plenty of time to delete data, which they allegedly did.

Lysenko is facing a possible eight-year ban.

The AIU has recommended that RusAF being expelled as a member of World Athletics.

In August, the World Athletics Council announced that they will expel the RusAF from membership with World Athletics if they fail to make a $5 million (USD) fine as well as another $1.31 million in expenses before August 15, 2020. They made it after several delays.

Continued Russian chaos

The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) Director-General Yuri Ganus was fired when the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and Russian Paralympic Committee (RPC) made the recommendation earlier this week.

RUSADA voted on Ganus’ future in the position during a virtual meeting Friday.

Also in August, RUSADA Supervisory Board had earlier that month recommended the dismissal of Ganus after an audit allegedly revealed a “number of significant irregularities in the financial and economic activities” of the organisation.

Yuri Ganus

At the time, Tass reported that Deputy Director-General Margarita Pakhnotskaya informed them that she resigned from the RUSADA.

“Yesterday I left the post of the deputy director general [of RUSADA],” Pakhnotskaya, who served as the deputy director general of the country’s main anti-doping body since 2017, said. “I do not like the current situation and, yes, I have resigned voluntarily as I see no sense in continuing. The commentaries will be given next week.”

This all started in July when Pozdnyakov announced that an audit of financial and operational activities revealed a number of major violations regarding the agency’s work.

In early June Alexander Shustov received a four-year ban from the Athletics Integrity Unit, which was held up by CAS after testing positive for a banned substance.

Last year, the Russians delayed allowing the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) into the Moscow Laboratory—the centre of the Russian doping crisis—to extra athlete data dubbed Operation LIMS investigation.

Once investigators were allowed in, they found that the data had been manipulated.

In May, WADA revealed four more positive tests. WADA continues running tests at the lab.

To that point in time, apparently 61 suspect doping samples had been documented by the investigative team. Allegedly many more have been since.

By April, WADA completed 298 Russian athlete tests.

The notion that RusAF or any part of the Russian sports and into-doping bureaucracy has changed over the past one to four months is laughable.