Dmitry Shlyakhtin has been elected as the new President of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) as the organisation looks to overturn its ban from competition in time for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
The Minister of Sport of the Samara Oblast region was elected unanimously at an ARAF conference in Moscow today and faces a monumental task due to the widespread allegations of state sponsored doping which have embroiled the country.
Maksim Karamashev, a former steeplechase athlete from Khakassia, was the only other candidate as two others, Mikhail Butov and 2010 European high jump champion Aleksandr Shustov, reportedly pulled out before the election.
Fifty-four-year-old Butov, the current general secretary of the ARAF and a member of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) ruling Council, had been favourite to win but he has announced that he would prefer to stay in his current role.
In theory, he could have been a key figure in the negotiations between the IAAF and ARAF as President.
“As you know, we are living in difficult times for our sport and our athletes and their very existence in the Olympic Games, the highlight of any athlete’s life, is in great danger,” said Butov.
“As General Secretary I am spending every hour of every day working closely with the IAAF Council, European Athletics, the Anti Doping and Russian Sports authorities, IAAF Task Force and Interim Coordination Committee of the Russian Olympic Committee.
“The importance of this mission cannot be underestimated and I take these tasks very seriously.
“Therefore, after a lot of thought and soul searching I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for the presidency of Russian Athletics Federation so I can put all my energies into being successful In these tasks and ensuring our athletes wear Russian vests in the Rio Olympics.”
Shlyakhtin will only serve for eight months before new elections are held after this summer’s Olympics.
Russia are in huge danger of missing track and field competition at the Games after they were suspended by the IAAF due to doping allegations and cover-ups revealed by the World Anti-Doping Agency’s Independent Commission.