Russia should be reinstated to IAAF/Olympic family — and right a masters wrong

Russian self-exile Vitaly StepanovRussian self-exile Vitaly Stepanov won the M35 800 at Spokane nationals — entered as an independent athlete. He should be able to compete under the flag of his own choice.

Even though my long-hurdles hero Edwin Moses is going ballistic, I’m happy to hear that the World Anti-Doping Agency is poised to reinstate Russia — let its athletes compete internationally.

On Thursday, WADA may accept the recommendation of its compliance review committee. The panel says Russia could soon meet two demands — admit it cheated and give WADA access to its drug-testing lab.

“Russia’s anti-doping agency has been suspended since 2015 after a WADA commissioned report revealed alleged widespread doping in the country, although Russia has repeatedly denied state involvement,” Reuters noted.
“WADA President Craig Reedie said in March that Russia’s refusal to acknowledge the systemic doping alleged in the McLaren report and its failure to allow access to Moscow’s suspended anti-doping laboratory were blocking its return.”

Of course, many hurdles remain for Russians to return to worlds and the Games. The IAAF and IOC have a say.

But for the sake of hundreds (maybe thousands) of Russian adult age-groupers, I hope the mess is resolved and masters can enter 2020 Toronto worlds. They’re collateral damage in a war that really doesn’t involve them (unless anyone can prove Putin gives a crap about geezer track).

It would be ironic justice if Russians compete in Toronto worlds. In 1975, as I’ve noted, South Africans faced a ban at the first WAVA world meet on account of apartheid. The Safricans ultimately were allowed to compete. But it was dicey for a while.

Certainly, governments have a right to impose economic sanctions against racist or criminal regimes, but in the 1975 case — as well as the 1980 Moscow boycott by America and some allies — it was a cut-off-your-nose-to-spite-your-face situation that only served to punish innocents.

Had certain elements prevailed in 1936, Jesse Owens wouldn’t have had a chance to rub Hitler’s nose in it.

In any case, WMA can choose to ignore IAAF and let Russians compete immediately. It’s too late for the relays Sunday at Malaga worlds, but why not let Russkies run, jump and throw at Eurovets and other WMA regional meets in 2019? WMA has had “masters exceptions” for years. Why not show some cojones now?

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About the Author

Ken Stone
Ken has followed track as an athlete, writer and webmaster since the late 1960s, and saw most sessions of track and field at the 1984 Los Angeles and 1996 Atlanta Olympics. He also attended the 1988, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012 Trials. He worked for 10 newspapers and now reports for Times of San Diego. Write him at or Story tips always welcome!

3 Comments on "Russia should be reinstated to IAAF/Olympic family — and right a masters wrong"

  1. Well, here is a first step. Unsure when or if IAAF and WMA will follow.

  2. IAAF says it’ll make up its mind in December.

    IAAF statement came today:

    The IAAF has its own set of criteria for the reinstatement of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) which it laid out in 2015 when the Federation was suspended. The progress against the reinstatement criteria has been overseen by the Independent Taskforce, chaired by Rune Andersen and including members of the IAAF Council.

    Andersen and his taskforce will review the decision made by WADA and the conditions set by WADA over the next few weeks and check RusAF progress on other criteria still outstanding. The taskforce will then compile their report with a recommendation and present this to the IAAF Council at the beginning of December. It is then for Council to discuss and decide any actions.

    The reinstatement of RUSADA was one of three pre-conditions set out in the IAAF Taskforce’s recommendations to the July council meeting. The other two pre-conditions agreed by the council are:

    The Russian authorities must acknowledge the findings of the McLaren and Schmid Commissions that Ministry of Sport officials were implicated in the scheme to cover up the doping of Russian athletes as described in their reports; and
    The Russian authorities must provide access to the data from testing of samples at the Moscow lab from 2011 to 2015, so that the Athletics Integrity Unit can determine whether the suspicious findings reported in the Moscow lab’s LIMS database should be pursued.
    IAAF President Sebastian Coe said: “These two pre-conditions and any other outstanding conditions which are required for RusAF’s reinstatement will need to be discussed by the taskforce before any recommendation is put to the council. The setting of our own criteria and the process of evaluating progress against these criteria has served the sport of athletics well over the last three years so we will continue to rely on the taskforce and our clear roadmap for RusAF reinstatement until we are satisfied that the conditions have been met.”

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