Athletics Integrity Unit (© AIU)
The charges brought by the AIU against RusAF for breach of the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules are extremely serious. World Athletics will be reviewing the files submitted to them by the AIU over the next couple of days.
We note from the AIU correspondence that:
- In the AIU's view, RusAF has failed to rebut the case that the AIU set out against RusAF in the charge letter, which was supported by 'clear and compelling evidence'.
- However, instead of admitting the charges and expressing contrition, RusAF has instead 'gone to great lengths to deny any involvement in the matter, blame others and attack the process'.
- The AIU notes: 'This approach is deeply concerning for the AIU Board as it seems to indicate that the current leadership of the Federation is merely a continuation of the former'. (In other words, there has been no change in attitude, no acknowledgement of the responsibilities of a World Athletics Member Federation, no commitment to change).
- The AIU therefore recommends that the charges be referred to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) to resolve, and (if the CAS upholds the charges) that the Council 'consider imposing the severest possible consequences, including considering the expulsion of RusAF from the membership of World Athletics'.
- The AIU also recommends that 'given the seriousness of the charges against RusAF, the strength of the prima facie case, and ongoing concerns about the suitability of the current RusAF management to oversee the sport of athletics in Russia with integrity, that the Authorised Neutral Athlete process should remain suspended until the charges are finally determined'.
Under the World Athletics Anti-Doping Rules, the charges against the individuals go to the Disciplinary Tribunal to resolve. In the case of a Member Federation, the process is different. Once RusAF has responded to the charges against it, the AIU refers those charges to Council, along with any recommendation that the AIU decides to make about the way forward, for Council to make a decision.
If RusAF continues to deny the charges, under Article 84.1(b) of the Constitution it is for CAS to resolve the dispute. If CAS upholds the charges, the matter would come back to Council to consider what sanctions to impose, under Article 16 of the Anti-Doping Rules. At that point, Council would also consider whether to start the process for Congress to consider expulsion of RusAF in accordance with Article 14 of the Constitution.
However, the Constitution also provides an option (under Article 84.1(a)) for reasonable steps to be taken to try to resolve the dispute before resorting to CAS. Therefore, as a first step, World Athletics will send a letter to the acting RusAF President and to the new Russian Minister for Sport, explaining that:
- if they maintain their current 'blanket denials' approach, we will put all necessary resource into presenting the charges to the CAS. Council will not consider any applications for 'authorised neutral athlete' status in the meantime.
- if on the other hand RusAF and its former officials admit the charges, at Council's meeting next month:
- Council will decide (with the benefit of recommendations from the joint committee of Taskforce and DRB members) on a new process for Russian athletes to apply for 'authorised neutral athlete' status moving forward;
- Council will consider what sanctions should be imposed for RusAF's breach of the Anti-Doping Rules. That would not include, at that stage, any proposal to expel RusAF from membership; and
- Council will also decide on a new process for the reinstatement of RusAF, which may include new elements to bring about the necessary changes.