World Athletics will look at the issue of Russian athletes competing while the Ukraine war continues only after it has been decided whether the country has cleaned up its act on doping sufficiently to be reinstated, Sebastian Coe said on Friday.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is facing a major backlash after opening the door for athletes from Russia and its ally Belarus to compete at next year’s Olympics in Paris despite the ongoing military action in Ukraine.
The Russian Athletics Federation (RAF) has been banned from athletics since 2015 as a result of the country’s widespread doping, although some athletes from Russia were allowed to compete at the last two Summer Olympics as neutrals.
World Athletics President Coe said doping would still take precedence when the governing council meets next month to decide whether the RAF has made sufficient progress along its “road map” to warrant reinstatement.
“The Council will discuss the roadmap for reinstatement but specifically around the egregious attack on the integrity of our sport through doping,” Coe told reporters at the world cross-country championships in Bathurst, New South Wales.
“Only on the basis of that conversation, or that discussion, would we move on to the second discussion.”
That said, Coe thought it unlikely that the blanket ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes imposed last year, including a suspension of the option to compete as a neutral, would be lifted.
“The council last February made (a) judgment (on) the situation in Ukraine and the inability of Ukrainian athletes to be competing openly and fairly and with the kind of integrity that we demand in our competitions,” he added.
“It was decided by the council it was inconceivable that Russia athletes (could compete) ... So the council will make a decision about whether that position that we decided upon in February still pertains ...
“But, as far as I’m concerned, the principles still sit there.”
The IOC, who are desperate to avoid the Olympic movement being torn asunder by the war in Ukraine, have proposed that Russian and Belarusian athletes could participate in Asian qualifying events for the Paris Games.
International Federations such as World Athletics, however, have the final decision on which athletes are allowed to compete in qualifying events and at the Olympic Games. (
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