Monaco - A reform-driven Sebastian Coe and drugs-tainted
Russia will again be in the spotlight of athletics' world governing body when
the IAAF gathers for three days of crunch meetings starting on Thursday.
A crucial part of the opening IAAF Council meeting will be
dedicated to the latest update from Norwegian Rune Andersen, the head of the
IAAF Taskforce looking into the steps Russia is taking to combat doping.
The International Association of Athletics Federations first
enforced a ban on Russian athletes in international competition in November
2015 after a bombshell World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report unveiled
systematic state-sponsored doping and corruption.
Andersen will report to IAAF's decision-making body whether
he thinks Russia have since met the reinstatement conditions set down. The
initial ban has twice been extended, in March and June this year.
It was Andersen's latter Taskforce report in Vienna that
scuppered Russian athletes' chances of competing at the Rio Games, despite a
last-ditch campaign to overthrow the ban led by Russian President Vladimir
Putin has in recent days, however, approved a law
criminalising doping in sports, while Russian Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly
Mutko has promised anti-doping inspectors full access to military cities which
are normally closed to members of the public although often listed as training
bases by many Russian athletes.
Staying with the anti-doping theme, Coe will on Saturday
preside over a Special IAAF Congress, a one-issue meeting concentrating on the
governance structure reform proposals presented in his 'Time for Change'
The reforms have already been given wholesale support by the
IAAF Athletes Commission, whose members said they believed that the reforms
would "set and enforce higher ethical standards and enable athletics to
regain the credibility and trust it deserves".
Coe has gone out of his way to ensure his reform process is
widely understood, having embarked on a road show in October and November that
took in the Dominican Republic, Chile, Portugal, Australia, Qatar and South
The Briton, twice an Olympic 1500m gold medallist, is
pushing for an independent drugs testing regime as part of his overhaul of
world athletics, saying that "results management" has been a failure
given "national interest involved".
He is proposing an "independent Athletics Integrity
Unit", which will be responsible for doping matters, taking powers away
from national associations. The unit would also look into illegal betting and
transfers of allegiance.
Other mooted reforms include a restructuring of the IAAF
Council so that it has 50 percent female membership, new checks and balances on
the president, and new vetting procedures on individuals.
The proposed changes, which need a two-thirds' majority to
be passed at Saturday's vote, have been brought about by the scandal which
continues to engulf athletics.
In the latest revelation, a weekend report by Germany's ARD
television and France's Le Monde newspaper said the wanted son of ousted IAAF
president Lamine Diack took millions of euros from Russian competitors in
return for "total protection" from failed doping tests.
Six athletes each paid between $318 000 and $740 000 to top
officials including Papa Massata Diack who is wanted by French authorities but
in hiding in his native Senegal, the report said.
His father, Lamine Diack, who was charged after standing
down as IAAF president in August 2015, is under house arrest in France.
"The organised cover-up of suspected doping in the
world of track and field has as such assumed a previously unimagined
scale," said ARD. "And once again, it is primarily athletes from one
nation under scrutiny: Russia."
Sandwiched between the two IAAF meetings come the IAAF
Athletics Awards, which were cancelled last year in the wake of the terrorist
attacks in Paris.
Fresh from securing an unprecedented third consecutive
treble of Olympic golds at the Rio Games, Usain Bolt is hot favourite to walk
away with the men's Athlete of the Year award from Mo Farah and Wayde van
In the women's category, 10 000 m Olympic champion Almaz
Ayana from Ethiopia is up against double sprint champion Elaine Thompson of
Jamaica and the Olympic hammer thrower champion, Poland's Anita Wlodarczyk.