World Athletics sets 10-athlete limit on Russians competing at 2020 Olympics as neutrals

The punishment comes after the Russian Federation admitted to multiple breaches of the sport’s anti-doping code

Jamie Gardner
Thursday 12 March 2020 11:51
Only 10 Russians will be permitted to participate at Tokyo 2020 as neutrals
Only 10 Russians will be permitted to participate at Tokyo 2020 as neutrals

A maximum of 10 Russian track and field athletes will be allowed to compete at this summer’s 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the country’s federation admitted multiple breaches of the sport’s anti-doping code.

World Athletics has also fined the Russian federation (RusAF) 10 million US dollars (£7.9m) – half of it suspended for two years – “to reflect the seriousness of the misconduct” committed.

But the formal admission of rule breaches, made by RusAF’s new president Evgeniy Yurchenko earlier this month, has paved the way for a limited number of Russian athletes to compete as Authorised Neutral Athletes (ANAs) in Tokyo this summer, plus other specified World Athletics and senior European Athletics events.

There will be no restriction on the number of ANA athletes that can compete in international one-day events around the world, provided they have been granted ANA status by World Athletics’ doping review board.

The ANA process will be halted if RusAF fails to pay the first 5m dollars of the fine by July 1.

The global governing body’s council laid down criteria for RusAF’s reinstatement, which included the establishment of a reinstatement commission, allowing two international experts designated by World Athletics to participate in the work and meetings of that commission, the drawing up of a plan to “ingrain throughout Russian Athletics a zero tolerance for doping culture” and for the two international experts to be allowed to ensure the plan is implemented on the ground.

World Athletics president Lord Coe said: “The package of sanctions approved by the council today reflects the seriousness of RusAF’s wrongdoing and sends a clear message that we take these types of offences by our member federations extremely seriously.

“We have consistently tried to separate the clean athletes from a tainted system, which is why we have reinstated the ANA process for athletes from Russia, enabling them to once again compete in international one-day competitions and earn prize money, but we have restricted the number of athletes eligible to compete in senior international and European events, including at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.”

Tokyo will see a maximum of 10 Russians competing as neutral

Hopes of Russian reinstatement looked bleak in November after federation officials were charged with conspiring to falsify documents related to the whereabouts of suspended high-jumper, Danil Lysenko.

The federation had been on course for expulsion if the charges had been proven, but the admission of wrongdoing by Yurchenko on behalf of the new RusAF administration has at least allowed the possibility of reinstatement in the future.

Russian sport has been engulfed in doping scandals in recent years, with World Athletics originally suspending the Russian federation in 2015 following a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of widespread drug use among the country’s track and field athletes.

The Russian anti-doping agency has appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport against WADA sanctions barring Russian teams from competing in or hosting international competitions for four years.

WADA imposed the sanction after laboratory data requested under the terms of RUSADA’s return to compliance in September 2018 was allegedly manipulated.

Under the WADA sanctions, individual athletes wishing to compete in events such as this summer’s Olympic Games would need to demonstrate they were exempt from the alleged manipulation.

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