Russia has not yet tackled doping sufficiently to justify lifting a ban ahead of August’s Rio Olympics, the IAAF ruled on Friday.
A five-person taskforce reviewing Russian reforms acknowledged the nation had made “significant progress”, but maintained there was still “significant work” to be done before any reinstatement.
Russia’s athletics federation was suspended by the IAAF in November after an independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accused them of systemic “state-sponsored” doping and cover-ups.
“However, the view of the task force is that there is significant work still to be done to satisfy the reinstatement conditions,” Norway’s Rune Andersen, head of the taskforce, told a news conference.
“We still need to interview athletes and coaches named in the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) commission report to understand the scope and nature of previous doping activities.”
IAAF head Sebastian Coe, appointed to oversee a broader shake-up in athletics to eradicate corruption and doping, suggested a final decision would be taken at the next scheduled council meeting in May.
In an interview with Sky Sports, Coe added the sanction would not be “lightly removed” and said he did not know whether Russia would do enough to be cleared and compete in Rio.
Andersen expressed concern about a documentary on German TV channel ARD last week that said Russia had made little progress on reform, that coaches banned for doping were still operating in the country and officials newly-installed as part of the clean-up were tipping off athletes ahead of drugs tests.
Dick Pound, co-author of the WADA commission’s report, said on Wednesday he felt the country was not showing enough urgency to make the necessary changes.
The Rio athletics programme begins on August 12 but registration must be completed about a month before that, which would be too late for the vast majority of Russian athletes who would still need to record Olympic-standard qualifying times.
That means the ban would need to be lifted weeks before that deadline, some time in June or even late May.
IAAF identifies five countries ‘in critical care’
It was a particularly grim day for athletics as the IAAF also named five countries in “critical care” in regards to drug-testing programmes.
“Ethiopia and Morocco – as a matter of urgency – need a robust testing programme put in place,” said Coe.
“Kenya, Ukraine and Belarus need to get compliant by the end of the year.”
However, the countries are not under threat of immediate sanction – meaning all five should compete at the Olympics as expected.
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