Russia set to miss IAAF World Indoor Championships

Russia is set to miss out on the 2016 International Association of Athletics Federations World Indoor Championships after it was announced that the governing body’s team tasked with monitoring the country’s anti-doping reforms will not report back until late March.

The IAAF has imposed an indefinite ban on the Russian athletics federation (Araf) after the country was accused by an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) commission of operating a state-sponsored doping programme. The IAAF has said that the suspension will only be lifted when the inspection team has been persuaded that the necessary reforms have been made.

The indoor championships in Portland, US, will run from March 17-20. It would be the first major athletics event that Russia would miss under the ban. Russian officials had previously said that they hoped to return to competition within three months, but the IAAF’s five-person inspection team will begin its investigations on January 1 at the latest.

“For the protection of all clean athletes there cannot be any timeframe for Araf's return until we are assured all criteria have been fully met and will continue to be met forever,” IAAF president Sebastian Coe said. “The verification criteria must be robust otherwise the inspection process will fail. Repeating past failings which have brought Araf to their current position is not an option.”

Araf general secretary Mikhail Butov told the Associated Press news agency that Russia was now unlikely to compete at the championships in Portland. “It certainly seems as if that's the case,” he said. “So far, it's hard to say.”

Meanwhile Wada will establish a group to work alongside the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (Rusada), the latter said yesterday (Thursday). “Rusada will continue its work in Russia in the format co-ordinated with Wada,” Rusada said. Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko added to the Tass news agency that Rusada will start to immediately implement any recommendations made by Wada.

In other news, Bulgaria’s weightlifting team has been banned from the 2016 summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, due to its doping record, according to the International Weightlifting Federation.

Spaniard Marta Dominguez has also been stripped of her 2009 steeplechase world title and banned for three years due to anomalies in her biological passport, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said yesterday.

Austrian cross-country skier Harald Wurm has also been provisionally suspended amid a doping investigation, a week before the start of the new World Cup season.