Russian sports minister says suspension only temporary

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko says the IAAF’s suspension of the All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) is only temporary and is “convinced that everything can still be rectified”.

The IAAF on Friday provisionally suspended Russia from athletics amid allegations of state-sponsored doping made in an independent commission established by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).

The commission had called for the ARAF to be banned over allegations of “corruption and bribery” at the highest levels of international athletics.

During an IAAF Council meeting held via teleconference, chaired by president Sebastian Coe, senior officials voted 22-1 to take decisive action.

The suspension of Russian athletes was imposed immediately and it remains to be seen how long it will remain in place, with the Olympics in Rio starting next August.

But Mutko is confident athletes will be able to return to competition before long, despite such a unanimous decision to implement a ban.

“This ARAF suspension is temporary. A special commission will make things clear. I am convinced that everything can still be rectified,” Mutko told TASS.

Vadim Zelichenok, the acting head of the ARAF, thinks the IAAF’s verdict was harsh.

“I believe, the IAAF council made a decision which was too severe,” he is quoted as saying by the R-Sport agency.

Russia will also not be entitled to host the 2016 World Race Walking Cup in Cheboksary and the 2016 World Junior Championships in Kazan.