Russian doping reform plan approved by track authorities

MONACO — Russia moved a step closer to having its longstanding suspension from track and field lifted after a new plan of doping reforms was approved Monday by World Athletics.

The plan was written by a commission set up by the Russian track federation and tasks it with implementing a series of “immediate actions” with deadlines at various points this year. That includes funding more testing of athletes, a crackdown on Russian regions with particular doping problems, encouraging whistleblowers and giving athletes more of a voice in how the sport is run.

The plan also contains a detailed admission of past wrongdoing, including by the federation, though it doesn’t address any involvement by the Russian state in doping or cover-ups.

“A history of extensive and sometimes blatant anti-doping rule violations involving athletes, coaches and officials is acknowledged,” the plan states. “The root causes of an extensive doping and covering-up culture involving athletes, coaches and officials arose from inheriting a post-Soviet doping culture aimed at winning by all means including doping.”

World Athletics hasn’t set a date to fully readmit the Russian track federation, which is known as RusAF and has been suspended since 2015. A World Athletics taskforce will monitor its progress with the reforms, as will foreign experts.

“This is not the end but the beginning of a long journey, with an incredible amount of work for RusAF to do to rebuild trust,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said. “The international experts believe the team that that is now in place will be able to deliver on the milestones they have put in place.”

The approval didn’t come in time for Russia to send athletes to this week’s European indoor championships in Poland. World Athletics said its council will discuss on March 17 and 18 whether to restart issuing exemptions so individual athletes can compete at international events as “authorized neutral athletes.”

World Athletics also has a limit of 10 athletes on any Russian track team for major events like the Olympics, far smaller than usual.

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