Russian athletes may compete in 2017 European meet under neutral flag

Moscow, Dec 6 (IANS) The All-Russia Athletics Federation (ARAF) is considering proposing that its athletes be allowed to take part in the European Athletics Championship next March in Belgrade under a neutral flag and based on individual applications, ARAF President Dmitry Shlyakhtin has said.

“We will definitely propose that our athletes take part in the European winter championship as independent track and fielders,” Shlyakhtin said in an interview with TASS on Monday.

“The participation of an athlete in the international tournament will first of all depend on his or her personal decision.”

According to Shlyakhtin, the ARAF is waiting for the relevant documents from the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

“We have not yet received the confirmation from the IAAF regarding this issue,” he said.

“As soon as we receive the official documents, we will make our own statement.”

Rune Andersen, head of the IAAF taskforce group examining the issue of reinstatement of Russia’s membership in the organisation, said earlier in the month that beginning next spring Russian athletes would have an opportunity to submit personal applications for international tournaments.

Last year, the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) independent commission carried out an investigation in regard to the activities of the ARAF, the Moscow-based anti-doping laboratory, the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) and the Russian Sports Ministry, and announced the results of the probe on November 9.

The commission accused certain athletes and sports officials of doping abuse and involvement in other activities related to violations of international regulations on performance enhancing substances.

Eventually, the IAAF decided to suspend ARAF’s membership in the global governing body of athletics and put forward a host of criteria which the Russian ruling body of track and field sports was obliged to implement for restoration of its membership in the global federation.

In mid-June June, the IAAF council ruled it was still too early to restore ARAF’s membership in the international organisation subsequently extending the suspension of Russian athletes from all international tournaments, including the 2016 Olympic Games in August.

–IANS

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