The IAAF suspends Russia following extensive doping violations

Olympic dreams may be over for now.
Olympic dreams may be over for now.
Image: Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin
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The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) today (Nov. 13) provisionally revoked Russia’s membership from the organization after a report released earlier this week by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) documented wide ranging and institutionalized doping by the country’s athletes.

The vote by members of IAAF’s council was 22-1 in favor of suspending the All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF). This is the first time that a country has been suspended from IAAF.

“[This is] the toughest sanction we can apply at this time,” Sebastian Coe, president of IAAF, said in a statement. “But we discussed and agreed that the whole system has failed the athletes, not just in Russia, but around the world.”

The immediate implication of the suspension means that Russian athletes will not be allowed to compete in international competitions, including Portland’s world indoor championships in March and the Olympic games in Brazil scheduled to start in August of next year.

Earlier on Friday, WADA concluded that Russia’s anti-doping agency, RUSADA, was non-compliant with its code, and going further than the report released on Monday, suggested that track and field may not be the only sport afflicted with doping issues, according to the Associated Press.

Both the IAAF suspension and WADA’s ruling rules out Russia as host of international competitions. This means that the world junior championships and the world race walking tournament slated to be held in Russia next year will be moved to another location or may be cancelled altogether, the IAAF statement said. It is still unclear what the decision’s impact will be on the 2018 World Cup, which Russia is slated to host.

“This has been a shameful wake up call,” Coe said. “We are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated.”

If Russia challenges the decision, IAAF could proceed to “a full hearing on whether the provisional suspension should be made a full suspension.” To regain its IAAF membership, the country will have to demonstrate significant reforms of its entire anti-doping regulatory structures so as to be compliant with WADA’s code, the IAAF said.