Russia faces expulsion threat as athletics chiefs pour scorn on response to Lysenko case charges

By Sports Desk January 29, 2020

Russia faces the threat of total expulsion from international athletics if charges relating to an anti-doping case are upheld against senior federation figures.

That was the stark warning issued on Wednesday by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU), which urged World Athletics to get tough if RusAF officials linked to the Danil Lysenko saga are shown to have been involved in anti-doping rule violations.

High-jumper Lysenko, a silver medallist at the 2017 World Championships, was competing as a neutral athlete following the suspension of RusAF when, in June 2018, he was notified of a third 'whereabouts' failure and served with a provisional suspension.

The AIU investigated the explanations provided by Lysenko, concluding the explanations were false and supported by forged documents, leading to charges against RusAF figures including president Dmitry Shlyakhtin and executive director Alexander Parkin, plus the athlete and his coach Evgeniy Zagorulko.

In all, seven individuals were charged, and RusAF was given until December 12 to respond, with that deadline later extended.

However, the AIU delivered a scathing verdict on RusAF's reaction to the charges on Wednesday, accusing it of trying to deflect blame and failing to demonstrate any accountability.

The AIU said in a statement: "The AIU board finds it regrettable that, in the face of clear and compelling evidence, RusAF has chosen not to admit to the acts and omissions of the employees, directors and representatives of RusAF for which it is liable under the anti-doping rules.

"In the AIU board's view, a responsible member federation in the circumstances would have admitted the charges and shown contrition for its conduct, but RusAF has chosen to do neither.

"Instead, RusAF has gone to great lengths to deny any involvement in the matter, blame others and attack the process. This approach is deeply concerning for the AIU board as it seems to indicate that the current leadership of the federation is merely a continuation of the former."

Russia's situation could result in none of its track and field athletes being allowed to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where they are already unable to enter under the country's flag.

Until charges in the Lysenko case are resolved, the AIU recommended suspending the practice of allowing Russians who meet certain criteria to compete as neutral competitors.

Pointing to RusAF's "total lack of contrition for its conduct" and "the fact that the previous sanctions of World Athletics have apparently failed to deter RusAF from reoffending", the AIU said the World Athletics Council should "consider recommending to the World Athletics Congress that RusAF be expelled from membership".

Responding to the AIU declaration, World Athletics said Russia would consider the call for expulsion if RusAF continues to deny any fault and if the Court of Arbitration for Sport upholds the charges.

World Athletics - previously known as the IAAF - said it would write to the acting RusAF president and to Russia's sports minister warning of the potential consequences of "their current 'blanket denials' approach".

However, an olive branch will also be offered to Russia.

The letter will spell out that if the charges are admitted to the World Athletics Council, then RusAF would face sanctions but would avoid expulsion, while a new process to reinstate the suspended membership of RusAF would also be decided upon.

RusAF has been out in the cold since 2015.

Importantly, World Athletics also said it would "decide on a new process for Russian athletes to apply for 'authorised neutral athlete' status moving forward", meaning Tokyo 2020 may not close its doors entirely to competitors from the country.

Related items

  • Just let women be women - IAAF gender policies continue to reek of discrimination Just let women be women - IAAF gender policies continue to reek of discrimination

     In general, the idea of what a woman should look has become a problematic issue, increasingly within our current societal framework.  In athletics, it seems to be no different.

    Women’s tennis legend Serena Williams once said: “I think of all the girls who could become top athletes but quit sports because they’re afraid of having too many defined muscles, being made fun of, or called unattractive.”

    While not implicitly stated, appearances are also judged and discriminated against in athletics.  Women with conditions like hyperandrogenism tend to have bigger muscles due to high natural levels of testosterone and are as such, in my opinion, singled out for discrimination by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) rules.  Despite the fact that it is how they were born.

      In fact, women who compete with such conditions can be subject to gender verification testing should ‘suspicions’ arise. Hyperandrogenism or androgen excess is a medical condition characterized by excessive levels of testosterone in the body and the condition affects approximately 1% of elite female athletes.  Such embarrassing stipulations not only serve as a barrier to some women competing but also as a deterrent to getting involved in the first place.

    In a recent chat with the Olympic Channel, Jamaican sprinter Elaine Thompson-Herah credited fellow athlete Dutee Chand for helping put India on the global athletics stage.

    Thompson-Herah gushed over the idea of athletes from other countries vying to claim a space on the global athletics map, in hopes of proudly representing themselves and their country.

    “As an athlete, I think that is really exciting and great to see them coming in to deliver and perform well,” said the Olympic champion.

    Having come from an impoverished community to become one of the world’s best, Thompson-Herah knows all about challenges.  Even now she battles with a nagging Achilles injury that has affected her for a good portion of her career.

    For athletes like Chand, the list of obstacles can be even longer.  Thompson-Herah pointed to the athlete’s first language as another likely barrier to perhaps sharing nuggets of wisdom.

    “English is not the native language for her,” Thompson-Herah explained.

    “It is kind of hard to translate everything to another person who doesn't speak English, but Dutee is getting to know more and getting better each time.”

    But in her short time competing as an athlete she has overcome an even bigger one.  One that were it not for her grit and determination, could have meant the end of her competing.

    In June 2014, after she won two gold medals at the Asian Junior Athletics Championships in the 200 metres and 4 × 400 m relays, Chand was dropped from the 2014 Commonwealth Games contingent at the last minute after the Athletic Federation of India revealed that hyperandrogenism made her ineligible to compete as a female athlete.  Chand challenged the gender testing policies and on July 26, 2015, the court ruled in favour.  The IAAF, as a result, temporarily suspended the hyperandrogenism regulations.

    Consequently, she qualified for the 2016 Olympic games without having to alter her natural hormone levels.

    The issue was, however, far from concluded. After further analysis in April 2018, the IAAF announced new eligibility regulations for female runners setting an upper testosterone limit, which applied to the 400m, 800m, and 1500m events.  Chand was left unaffected by the revised regulations and has her eyes set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.  The rule amendment did, however, impact another woman, South African middle-distance runner Caster Semenya. 

    The three-time World Championship gold medallist and two times Olympic champion could no longer compete in her preferred 800m event after the new IAAF "differences of sex development" rules that required athletes with specific disorders of sex development, testosterone levels of 5 nmol/L and above, and certain androgen sensitivity, take medication to lower their testosterone levels.  Semenya, like Chand, contested the decision but lost the case at both the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and appeal at the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland.  She has considered switching to the 200m event.

    September is Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) awareness month.  PCOS is a hormonal disorder common among women of reproductive age and is one of the conditions that can affect these elite athletes.  When women have PCOS, they may have excess male hormone (androgen) levels.

    Sports governing bodies should accept the fact that some women naturally produce higher levels of testosterone and those who do should be allowed to compete. When will women just be allowed to be women?

    Please share your thoughts on Twitter (@SportsMax_Carib) or in the comments section on Facebook (@SportsMax). Don’t forget to use #IAmNotAFan. Until next time!

     

  • Former athletics chief Diack jailed for corruption Former athletics chief Diack jailed for corruption

    Lamine Diack, the former head of athletics' world governing body, has been found guilty of corruption and sentenced to four years in prison, two of them suspended.

    The 87-year-old, who was facing trial in France, was convicted of accepting bribes from Russian athletes suspected of doping to cover up test results and letting them continue to compete, including at the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. 

    The Senegalese, who has been under house arrest in Paris since November 2015, was also given a maximum fine of €500,000.

    Prosecutors alleged that Diack, who led World Athletics - previously known as the IAAF - between 1999 and 2015, directly or indirectly solicited £3.1million from athletes to conceal their offences so they could continue competing. 

    It was also alleged that Diack was involved in a $1.5m payment from Russia to finance presidential and legislative election campaigns in Senegal in 2012, in exchange for slowing down doping cases targeting Russian athletes.

    The judge, Rose-Marie Hunault, said his actions had "undermined the values of athletics and the fight against doping".

    Diack's lawyers are appealing against the judgement.

    The court also handed guilty verdicts to five other people, including Diack's son, Papa Massata Diack, who worked as an IAAF marketing consultant. The judge said $15m was funnelled to the younger Diack's companies while his father was in charge of the IAAF.

  • I would have signed Usain Bolt instead!  Ancelotti not concerned by James' lack of pace I would have signed Usain Bolt instead! Ancelotti not concerned by James' lack of pace

    Carlo Ancelotti is not concerned by new signing James Rodriguez's lack of pace and physicality, joking he would have signed sprinter Usain Bolt instead if that was a priority.

    The Colombia playmaker impressed for Everton in Sunday's 1-0 win over Tottenham alongside fellow debutants Allan and Abdoulaye Doucoure.

    James played five key passes, more than any other player on the field at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, and also topped the charts with four interceptions.

    Asked after the game if he was worried James needs time to adapt to the pace of the Premier League, Ancelotti quipped eight-time Olympic gold medallist who dabbled with football in retirement would have been on his radar if that was the case.

    "I am not worried about the physicality. If I was worried about that I would sign Usain Bolt, not James," he told Sky Sports.

    "James is not the fastest player in the world but he has a lot of quality. We have to use him to show his quality. 

    "He is not a winger, but he can come inside and receive the ball, he is very dangerous.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.