The Russian athletics team may be banned from its second summer Olympics running after the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) recommended imposing severe sanctions on the Russian Athletics Federation (RUSAF).
The AIU Board was not satisfied with explanations provided by RUSAF over alleged manipulation and document falsification in connection with the doping case of silver high-jumper Daniil Lysenko.
In a statement published on Wednesday, the AIU said the Federation failed to present “any material or evidence that [the board] contends answers the AIU’s case against it,” insisting that RUSAF officials forged documents in an attempt to cover up the Lysenko case.
“The AIU Board finds it regrettable that, in the face of clear and compelling evidence, RUSAF has chosen not to admit to the acts and omissions of the employees, directors and representatives of RUSAF for which it is liable under the Anti-Doping Rules,” the statement said.
Having assessed RUSAF’s explanation, the AIU recommended maintaining the suspension of the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process, meaning that Russia’s athletes would not be able to take part in international events even under a neutral status.
The unit also proposed imposing the “severest possible” measures, including the revoking of RUSAF’s World Athletics membership.
“The AIU Board has made recommendations to the World Athletics Council to maintain the suspension of the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process until the charges are finally determined and, if the charges are upheld, to consider imposing the severest possible consequences, including considering the expulsion of RUSAF from the membership of World Athletics.”
If the problematic issue is not resolved and Russian competitors are forbidden from receiving even a neutral status, they could miss the upcoming Tokyo Olympics despite having a clean doping record.
Three-time world high-jumping champion Mariya Lasitskene is among those who could be barred from their second consecutive Summer Games, as four years ago the entire Russian athletics squad was banned from the Rio event due to a blanket ban levied on the team over alleged doping breaches.
RUSAF, which will elect its new president on February 28, will have less than five months to save Russian athletes from a possible Olympic ban.