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RusAF president departs amid delayed World Athletics payments

Yevgeny Yurchenko, pictured after being elected president of the Russian Athletics Federation on February 28 (by Alexander ShcherbakTASS via Getty Images)

Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) president Yevgeny Yurchenko has resigned after less than five months in the position after the national governing body came under fire from World Athletics for failing to make scheduled payments as part of sanctions imposed for Russia’s doping scandal.

World Athletics president, Sebastian Coe, this month said RusAF was falling “well short of expectations” after confirming that the world governing body had not received the payments due. Yurchenko had earlier said that his federation’s finances had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that it had requested an extension on the payment deadline.

However, World Athletics said it had not received the payments due on July 1, nor any information on when the monies may be paid, despite what it claims were reminders and correspondence with the Federation.

In a statement reported by state news agency Tass, Yurchenko said yesterday (Monday): “I would like to thank all specialists, who were not indifferent in regard to the fate of the Russian track and field athletics sports, with whom I had the privilege of working within such a very short and also complicated period of time.

“I hope that the newly-elected president of RusAF will advance in the practical solution of the five-year-old complications in relations with World Athletics and will also attract ample money for the financing of the federation’s development.”

As a result of this month’s developments, World Athletics has stood down both the Doping Review Board (DRB), which vets Russian athletes seeking neutral status to compete internationally, and the Russian Taskforce monitoring RusAF reform until its Council has reviewed and discussed the situation at their meeting on July 29-30, as set out in the decision made by the Council on March 12.

The payments due from RusAF by July 1 were a fine of $5m (€4.4m) and $1.31m in other costs. RusAF was fined $10m in total by the World Athletics Council back in March for breaching the sport’s anti-doping rules.

World Athletics also reinstated the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process for Russian athletes but capped the number of ANAs allowed to compete in the Tokyo Olympic Games and other World Athletics and European Athletics events at 10.

No restrictions were placed on the number of ANA athletes eligible to compete in international one-day events around the world. World Athletics stressed, however, that the ANA process would be suspended if half of the $10m fine was not paid by July 1.

The remaining $5m of the fine was due to be suspended for two years, but paid immediately if RusAF committed a further breach of anti-doping rules during that period, or if it failed to make “meaningful progress” towards satisfying the reinstatement conditions set by the Council.

RusAF has been suspended from the membership of World Athletics since November 2015, a status that was upheld by the sport’s world governing body ahead of the 2019 World Championships in Doha.

Reacting to Yurchenko’s departure, World Athletics told the Associated Press news agency: “We are aware of this news, but this is obviously an internal matter and we will wait to hear from RusAF.”