Monaco - Russian athletes are unlikely to
see their suspension from international competition lifted when the IAAF
Council meet to discuss the athletics powerhouse's on-going bid to eradicate
The Russian track and field federation
(ARAF) was suspended by the IAAF (International Association of Athletics
Federations) in November after the latter acted on a sensational report by an
independent commission of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) that found
evidence of state-sponsored doping and large-scale corruption in Russian
The two-day IAAF Council meeting starting
Thursday will be presided over by Sebastian Coe, the British two-time Olympic
1500m gold medallist who has found himself at the centre of unprecedented
attention since taking over the presidency from the now-disgraced Lamine Diack.
But there is little prospect of an easy way
back into the international fold for Russian athletes, increasing the
likelihood they might miss the Rio Olympics in August.
Dick Pound, co-author of the initial
damning WADA report into Russian doping that prompted the ban, insisted
Wednesday that there was still "a wall of denial" within Russian
athletics and its federation was not doing enough to prove it was ready to take
part at the Rio Olympics.
Speaking at the Tackling Doping in Sport
conference in London, Pound said: "Even with the presence of credible
evidence, there was, and to some extent there still is, a wall of denial.
"Russia, in the sport of athletics, is
on the outside trying to get back in. The onus is on it to justify any
"It is also clear that opinion is
divided on the matter of readmission. The Russians seem to assume that the
controversy will disappear and there should be no question regarding their
participation in Rio. No question.
"In other parts of the sporting world
there is great resistance to any fast-track solution.
"It is a considerable hurdle for them
and if the two organisations (WADA and the IAAF) are not satisfied that the
clean competitors of the Games are protected then my guess is that they may not
make it back for Rio."
Pound was speaking just two days after
Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam winner, tested
positive for meldonium, a banned substance at this year's Australian Open.
And his words also followed another
explosive documentary by German broadcaster ARD detailing continued violations
by Russia's athletics programme.
Entitled "Doping Top Secret: Russia's
Red Herrings", the ARD programme contained new allegations suggesting
malpractice by several people in the Russian anti-doping system and alleges
someone from the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) gave advance warning to
athletes of testing plans.
"At a time when trust in sport is
wafer thin, these troubling assertions will do little to reinforce confidence
in the Russian anti-doping system when clean athletes need it most," said
WADA president Craig Reedie.
"The allegations suggest that there is
still much, much work to be done in Russia and that we will need the full and
unwavering cooperation of the Russian authorities to reverse the damage. Until
this happens, clean athletes won't be able to trust that there is a level
"I will not hesitate to act swiftly to
ensure that any breaches to the Code are dealt with firmly and
expeditiously," Reedie said.
"Strong and decisive action by all
sporting authorities is imperative if clean athletes, and indeed the public at
large, are to retain belief in the integrity of sport."
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko was
quick to shrug off blame attributed in the ARD documentary, arguing that
"to talk about the responsibility of the state in the case of every
individual violation is impossible".
"If people are guilty then they will
be punished in accordance with the rules."
The Council, on whose behalf Coe will
address the media on Friday, could also examine the case of Kenya, the east
African track power that has seen some 40 athletes caught up in drug scandals
over the last three years and federation supremo Isaac Mwangin suspended for
corruption involving cover ups.
WADA's Reedie has informed Kenyan athletics
officials they must conform to doping guidelines before April 5 or face their
athletes being banned for the Rio Olympics.
"They are very well aware of what they
need to do. They need to reply to us by April 5," said the Briton.
"They simply need to do it. If they don't do it my compliance review
committee will take the matter further.