(Reuters) - The Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) has welcomed new anti-doping regulations in the sport that put greater responsibility on national federations.
Following an International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) council meeting, national federations will be divided into three categories with differing obligations based on their level of success and the perceived risk of doping.
“For too long the strict requirements of the anti-doping rules have fallen largely onto athletes,” AIU chairman David Howman said in a statement.
“The IAAF Council should be congratulated for adopting innovative new rules that also make all of its member federations accountable on anti-doping matters. This will help ensure lasting and meaningful change in athletics.”
The doping scandal involving Russian athletes, which saw the country’s track and field team banned from the 2016 Rio Olympics, has cast a long and enduring shadow over athletics.
The AIU was set up a year ago as part of the IAAF’s effort to separate itself from anti-doping and corruption and rebuild athlete and fan confidence in the sport.
The AIU first raised the idea of the new rules with the IAAF council in November and after discussions with all stakeholders recommended the amendments at this week’s meeting in Buenos Aires.
The IAAF said four member federations - Kenya, Ethiopia, Belarus, Ukraine - would constitute the current watchlist of Category A, which includes the members most at risk of doping.
Athletes from those countries will have to undergo at least three out-of-competition doping tests in the 10 months prior to a world championships or Olympics.
The power to categorise members into one of three groups will rest with the AIU board and the new rules will come into effect from 2019, a year before the Tokyo Olympics.
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Nick Mulvenney