World Athletics suspends Russia readmission process after latest doping probe

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Sebastian Coe says the Russians he was negotiating with have all been banned, describing them as renegade

World Athletics announced on Friday it had suspended the reinstatement process of Russian athletics and was contemplating expelling the country entirely from the sport due to doping affairs.

The news comes a day after the president of the Russian athletics federation (RUSAF), Dmitry Shlyakhtin, and other senior officials were suspended for "serious breaches" of anti-doping rules, putting the nation's track and field athletes' participation at next year's Tokyo Olympics in further danger.

The head of World Athletics Sebastian Coe described those banned as 'renegade factions'.

"The people we were dealing with have all been suspended," said Coe, explaining why the process of potential reintegration had been suspended.

The global governing body of athletics, formerly known as the IAAF, originally banned Russia in November 2015 after the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of widespread doping in Russian sport.

Thursday's ruling by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) that accused RUSAF of obstructing an investigation into high-jumper Danil Lysenko, deepened the crisis.

After the first day of its council meeting in Monaco, the global governing body said it was awaiting a decision by WADA on December 9, but was considering expelling RUSAF and was also suspending the provision that allows Russians to compete as neutral athletes.

Last year Lysenko had the status removed by the then IAAF after he failed to provide information regarding his whereabout which he is required to give as part of the anti-doping procedure.

- Forged documents -

The AIU said on Thursday a 15-month investigation had found Shlyakhtin and the federation's executive director Alexander Parkin had been involved in the "provision of false explanations and forged documents to the AIU in order to explain whereabouts failures by the athlete".

The AIU had already said Lysenko was guilty of three "no-shows" in 12 months. Any combination of three missed tests or filing failures within a 12-month period is considered a violation of anti-doping rules.

The unit has given the accused until December 12 to respond to the accusations.

Shlyakhtin said senior RUSAF officials would meet to discuss their response to the case and who would take over as interim president while he was suspended.

- Positive tests -

RUSAF spokesperson Natalia Yukhareva said lawyers were examining the accusations.

"We only received the documents today (Thursday). Our lawyers are studying the circumstances of the matter and the charges that have been brought. The ban is provisional, the inquiry is ongoing and the details are confidential," Yukhareva told TASS news agency.

In September, World Athletics maintained its ban on Russia competing as a country pending analysis of data from Moscow's anti-doping laboratory.

WADA reinstated Russia in September 2018, on condition it handed over a huge cache of electronic data from the laboratory.

Russia has been forced to deny allegations it had doctored the data after WADA said evidence of some positive tests handed over by a whistleblower does not appear in the data.

WADA is due to make an official recommendation on what sanctions to take against Russia and the issue will top the agenda at a meeting of the body's Executive Committee on December 9.

The anti-doping body failed to prevent Russian competitors from taking part in the 2016 Rio Olympics, with the exception of athletics.

Under new rules, WADA has the power to ban countries from major sporting events including the Tokyo Olympics although its decision can be appealed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.