Nanjing lands 2020 World Indoor Championships, IAAF maintains Russia ban

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has opted to maintain its ban on the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) stating two key criteria have yet to be met for its reinstatement, while Nanjing has held off competition from two other cities to be awarded the 2020 World Indoor Championships.

The status of Russia and key hosting rights were one of a number of issues on the agenda at the IAAF Council meeting held in Monaco over the weekend. Ahead of London’s World Championships, IAAF members in August voted overwhelmingly to maintain Russia’s suspension from events operated by the global governing body despite what was described as a “candid” apology by the president of RusAF, Dmitry Shylakhtin.

Russia’s ban was first imposed in November 2015 after the McLaren report uncovered widespread doping in the country’s sporting system. The IAAF yesterday (Sunday) said that most, but not all, of the verification criteria in its roadmap for RusAF’s reinstatement have been met. Of the five remaining conditions in the roadmap, the IAAF said that one has been fully met to date (support for the Clean Sport Movement), while two others have only been partly met (satisfactory testing, and a solution to the problem of enforcement of provisional suspensions of coaches).

However, the IAAF noted that two have not been met at all – acknowledgement of the McLaren report findings and reinstatement of the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada). Earlier this month, the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) ruled that Russia remained “non-compliant” with the Wada Code, stating that the country had failed to fulfil two key requirements for compliance – namely to accept the results of Richard McLaren’s damning report into Russian doping, and provide access to samples collected during the period of alleged doping.

The IAAF Council also approved on Sunday its Russian Taskforce’s recommendation that the current verification criterion that a Russian athlete must undergo at least three tests in the six months prior to international competition be replaced with a requirement that RusAF ensure an “effective, intelligent and proportionate” test distribution plan is implemented for testing its athletes at the national level, with the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) to determine whether this reinstatement condition has been met.

Rune Andersen, independent chair of the IAAF Russian Taskforce, said: “RusAF continue to work hard at reforming Russian track and field, and the Taskforce continues to support those efforts. However, there are several reinstatement conditions still to be satisfied. In particular, RusAF needs the Russian authorities to get Rusada reinstated and to acknowledge the McLaren findings.”

Sunday’s decision means that Russian athletes that have been cleared for competition are set to again, like at London 2017, compete under a neutral flag at the 2018 Indoor World Championships, which will take place in Birmingham, England from March 1-4. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive board will meet on December 5-6 in Lausanne to determine whether Russian athletes can compete in February’s Pyeongchang winter Olympic Games.

In other news, the Chinese city of Nanjing has defeated rival bids from Belgrade (Serbia) and Torun (Poland) to land the 2020 World Indoor Championships. Nanjing staged the 2014 Youth Olympic Games and will build a stadium specifically for the World Indoor Championships in the Nanjing Youth Olympic Sports Park. It will offer a permanent legacy as an athletics training centre after the championships.

IAAF president Sebastian Coe said: “The hosting of these championships will assist the development of an already established and growing culture of athletics in the country. We were impressed with all the bids, particularly the involvement of athletes in the presentations and the plans for permanent athletics legacy at elite and community level which was central to all three visions for 2020. There can only be one winner in any race but I hope that Belgrade and Torun will return in future years to bid for other championships, as you each have so much to offer to the future of athletics.”

Meanwhile, the Polish port city of Gdynia will stage the 2020 World Half Marathon Championships. Minsk, the capital and largest city of Belarus, was awarded the 2020 World Race Walking Team Championships. This will be the first occasion that Belarus has ever staged an IAAF World Athletics Series event.