© Copyright – 2020 – Athletics Illustrated

Retreat seems to be in Russia’s DNA. They don’t do battle, but simply wait out the opposing forces until they figurately or in the case of the Grande Armée literally freeze to death.

During the other war of 1812, when Napolean’s Grande Armée marched into Europe with 500,000 men, the Russians did not engage. They simply retreated into the harsh winter of Russian discontent. Was it cowardice or brilliance on their part? The Grande Armée lost 300,000 men during the battle.

It appears that Russia has continued to give ground as a survival tactic, this time in the sport of athletics.

As expected, the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) missed a critical deadline to pay a portion of their $10-million fine to World Athletics for alleged corruption and other supposed malfeasance. RusAF owed $6.31 million USD. Are they simply waiting for a currently scheduled appeal date (Nov.2, 2020) with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS)?

Paying the fine was part of the gradual reinstatement process.

RusAF had asked for the deadline extension as well as to pay just $5-million claiming that the funds were not available.

A select few Russian athletes who were permitted to compete under a neutral flag or the Olympic banner, of which there was 10, can now no longer do so. Last week, three of them penned an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin asking him to intervene.

The rest of the fine had been suspended for two years.

“We recognise these are difficult times, but we are very disappointed by the lack of progress made by RusAF in terms of the requirements set in March,” said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.”

A little context on the matter

Russia was first suspended by World Athletics, in November 2015 following an investigation by a task force and the subsequent McLaren Investigation, which as named after the lead Richard McLaren a Canadian lawyer. The suspension has been renewed several times since influenced by ongoing positive doping tests as well as the infamous Moscow Laboratory delay.

On November 18, 2015, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) declared the All Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) non-compliant with the WADA code. This was one week after it was discovered that there was widespread and systematic doping in Russia.

In May 2017, WADA set a Compliance Roadmap for RUSADA to follow.

By June of 2017, RUSADA had completed 19 of 31 items in the roadmap. As all 19 conditions were benchmarked as Part 1, of the two-part process, they were deemed successful on the road to compliance. WADA gave the green light for RUSADA to begin the process of being reinstated.

By Nov. 2017 (for various reasons), WADA decided that RUSADA had not yet met reinstatement conditions.

By September 2018, the Russians continued to deny that they continued to have a doping issue. At that time, WADA set two conditions that were to be met.

1. That the responsible authorities for anti-doping in Russia must publicly accept the reported outcomes of the McLaren Investigation; and

2. That the Russian Government must provide access for appropriate entities to the stored samples and electronic data in the former Moscow Laboratory, which are sealed off due to a federal investigation.

From the 31 conditions set in 2015, one was that WADA was to be granted access to the implicated Moscow Laboratory and its data collection and storage computers. They missed deadlines and as was written in Athletics Illustrated at that time, we suggested that they were possibly manipulating the data. WADA later found this to be true.

WADA reviewed a report following which indicated that the Russians manipulated the data before it was extracted. The meeting was set to take place Monday, Sept. 23. RUSADA’s suspension was continued.

In early 2019, nearly 300 athletes were identified as having the most suspicious samples in data retrieved from the Moscow Laboratory and WADA sent evidentiary packages on 43 competitors to the relevant international federations.

RusAF is possibly avoiding paying the fine as they have a date with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on Nov. 2, 2020, in which their appeal of the latest extension will be heard. Expect Russian to continue to play games with the process going forward, metaphorically retreating until their case is heard in four months’ time.