(Reuters) - Russia’s suspended athletics federation (RusAF) has been granted a six-month extension to finalise its reinstatement plan before World Athletics decides on potential fresh sanctions or even expulsion, the sport’s global governing body said on Saturday.
RusAF was suspended in 2015 after a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of mass doping among track and field athletes.
The World Athletics Council said it approved a recommendation from its Russia Taskforce to extend the deadline for Russia to produce an appropriate reinstatement plan by no later than March 1, 2021.
The Taskforce felt the missed deadline “appears to be due not to a lack of willingness but rather a lack of knowhow and resources.”
RusAF paid a multi-million-dollar fine to World Athletics last month to avoid expulsion by the governing body but still needed to submit a draft reform plan by Aug. 31.
World Athletics said RusAF provided the draft plan before the deadline, one of the actions required to prevent its council from instigating expulsion proceedings.
“Although the draft plan was better than what has come before ... it is nevertheless seriously deficient and does not meet most of the requirements set out in Council’s decision,” World Athletics said in a statement.
RusAF’s troubles have snowballed in recent months, with some of its officials and senior coaches embroiled in doping scandals.
The federation’s handling of the crisis has angered some of Russia’s top athletes, including three-times world high jump champion Maria Lasitskene, who has been among its most vocal critics.
World Athletics said it has appointed Margarita Pakhnotskaya, the former deputy director-general of Russia’s anti-doping agency, as one of two international experts who will help RusAF to produce a proper reinstatement plan.
“The Taskforce believes that the international experts will be very well-equipped to help RusAF’s Reinstatement Commission complete the plan in a matter of two or three months, but they recommended a long-stop deadline of 1 March 2021,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said.
“If an adequate plan is not completed by then, the Council will once again consider the matter of RusAF’s expulsion.”
Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Sam Holmes
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