January 30, 2020 / 3:10 PM / 6 months ago

Russian federation rejects call to expel it over doping offences

FILE PHOTO: A sign on display saying "Russian Federation of Athletics" is pictured in Moscow, Russia November 23, 2019. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia’s suspended athletics federation said it would continue to battle to prove its innocence after the Athletics Integrity Unit Board accused it of showing a “total lack of contrition” in its response to anti-doping violations.

The AIU recommended on Wednesday that the Russian federation be expelled from global athletics after examining explanations provided by the federation about its leadership’s involvement in the cover-up of a violation by high jumper Danil Lysenko.

The federation’s president and six others were provisionally suspended in November last year for having provided forged documents and false explanations to justify three missed doping tests by Lysenko.

“The Russian federation does not agree with the allegations made by the AIU Board because they are unfounded and unproven,” the federation said in a statement.

“The Russian federation intends to maintain its innocence and is considering all possible legal means to protect its position and the interests of (its) athletes,” it said late on Wednesday.

In a joint statement on Thursday, Russia’s Olympic committee and sports ministry said they were ready to work with World Athletics and the AIU to resolve the situation. They said the sports ministry on Friday would review the federation’s accreditation as the body overseeing athletics in Russia.

“We have no reason not to trust the course and the format of the procedures undertaken by the AIU to clarify all the circumstances surrounding the so-called ‘Lysenko case’ and the degree of involvement of the officials from the federation’s previous leadership,” the statement said.

Russia’s athletics federation was initially suspended in 2015 after a report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of mass doping in the sport and had since been trudging toward reinstatement.

But World Athletics, the sport’s global governing body formerly known as the IAAF, in November last year halted Russia’s reinstatement process and stopped clearing some Russians to compete internationally as neutrals in response to the charges facing the federation’s leadership.

Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; writing by Tom Balmforth; editing by Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge

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