On Thursday, it was learned that the Council of the World Athletics Association (World Athletics) has restored the full status of the All-Russian Athletic Federation (ARAF), which it was deprived of in November 2015 due to doping scandals. But in parallel, it also extended the exclusion of athletes from Russia and Belarus from international tournaments under its auspices for the foreseeable future, which means that the path to the 2024 Olympics is currently closed for athletes from these countries. RIA Novosti correspondent – On why World Athletics opposes the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in January recommending that Russians and Belarusians be allowed neutral status, and whether we can do something about it.
Thursday’s news – just like in Leonid Utyosov’s song. The issue of doping in Russian athletics is completely closed. ARAF is no longer a rogue federation. It can also organize international tournaments. Russian track and field athletes no longer need to apply for neutral status, which they have held for the past seven years. The concept of the “Russian national athletics team” will become reality again – the team will no longer consist only of those lucky enough to receive neutral status from the World Athletics, and the Russian championship will again be a truly qualified championship.
There are, of course, some harsh words in the decision of the World Athletic Council. Thus, in order for the ARAF to operate for three years, it will have to comply with “35 special conditions”. Our federation will be designated category A where an increased number of doping tests are required. All the oversight of the World Athletics and Athletics Integrity Unit will be covered by the ARAF, which is kind of funny – we’ve paid millions of dollars to international athletic officials and they’re not going to get our money. But in general, the above is unimportant. Well, beautiful marquise?
ARAF President talks about restoration of World Athletics membership
No, unfortunately. The doping issue is closed – but the political one is. The World Athletics Council has extended for the foreseeable future the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes of any status from international World Athletics Series tournaments due to events in Ukraine. Important clarification: no, this is not a mass ban from all tournaments. World Athletics is responsible for world championships in various age categories and cannot directly influence commercial starts. However, the council’s decision includes a recommendation to organizers of the Diamond League, Continental Tour and other competitions to follow the same approach.
Most will no doubt make the same decision. Those who don’t might theoretically accept the Russians, but in practice they won’t do it, as they say, so as not to anger the geese. If they are not going to accept applications from runners from Russia for mass international marathons – for logistical reasons there are not many of them at the moment, and among the tens of thousands of participants ours still does not particularly tremble. And they don’t compete with Africans for the biggest prizes.
But the main thing that the World Head of Athletics Sebastian Coe has already confirmed is that Russian and Belarusian athletes will not be able to participate in the Olympic Games in Paris, while the suspension is in effect. And this is in stark contrast to the position of the IOC and a number of other international organizations, including the UN Human Rights Council’s Special Rapporteur on cultural rights, according to which expulsion of athletes on the basis of nationality is discrimination. .
Bubka supported the World Athletic Council’s decision to dismiss Russia
Of course, at a press conference on Thursday, Coe was asked – how does the World Athletic Council’s decision on Russians and Belarusians relate to the position of the IOC, which has been repeatedly stated by the head of the organization, Thomas Bach? Was it reinforced by a special decision at the Olympic summit? “The right to decide on admission belongs to the international sports federations, it was determined by the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the IOC agreed on this. We determine who can be admitted to the World Athletics tournaments. Russian and Belarusians in the near future,” said IOC member Kou without a tremor in his voice.
Why isn’t Kou afraid to stand up to his boss? There may be various reasons for this. For example, this: Bach’s hypocrisy a year ago when he spoke about “protective measures” and what he called recommendations for the suspension of Russian and Belarusian athletes was so obvious that now his stance on the inadmissibility of discrimination is simply not taken. Really. Yes, Bach wants to correct his mistake by returning Russia and Belarus to the international sports arena, albeit neutrally. But when you try to sit on two chairs, there is a possibility that they will both fall. So to put it roughly, World Athletics president and IOC member Sebastian Coe is putting the device in charge of the IOC. Despite all the rejection of the Briton’s radical position, it is worth admitting: at least it does not spin like a weather vane.
However, the reasons for Coe’s position are no longer as important as the participation of Russian athletes in the Paris Olympics. Yes, the IOC has the right to issue wild cards to individual athletes, i.e. to invite Olympic champion Maria Lasitskene to perform without World Athletics’ approval. But we emphasize once again: Russians cannot participate in the 2024 Games while the political suspension is in effect. Yes, in the near future, World Athletics will form a working group that will determine the terms of return. But there is a feeling that nothing good will be found in them. Even if the IOC executive committee finally withdraws its recommendation next week to exclude Russians and Belarusians, the World Athletic Association will not follow his example 100%.
Lysenko talks about World Athletics’ decision to extend Russia’s suspension
The head of the Russian Ski Racing Federation, Elena Vyalbe, said recently that the International Ski Federation offered to return to our people on the condition that they condemn a special military operation. For example, World Athletics may envisage the same requirement on its own terms. Or more: to indicate that the suspension is valid until the end of the CBO, as the European Athletic Association did a week ago. There are so many options and they are all pessimistic.
But does this mean that the Russian sports authorities should give up? In no case. There is an important precedent: the IOC, in conflict with the International Boxing Association, headed by Umar Kremlev, deprived him of the right to choose for the Olympic Games and the tournament. The reasons for the conflict there are entirely different, but the IOC’s decision regarding World Athletics may be exactly the same – to choose the Olympic track and field tournament if Coe and his men continue to rigorously discriminate against Russian athletes.
Of course, now we have to wait for the meeting of the IOC Executive Committee and the creation of the World Athletics working group, which will formulate the conditions for the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes, but they will almost certainly not be possible, so the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) should prepare to fight for us in court right now. Qualification for the Paris Olympics will last until July 2024, there is still time, but it is better not to waste it.
Matytsin comments on the restoration of ARAF membership
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