Vienna - The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) council meets in Vienna on Friday with three key decisions to vote on ahead of the August 5-21 Olympic Games.
UPHOLD BAN ON RUSSIA, TAINTED BY DOPING AND CORRUPTION?
The IAAF imposed a ban on the Russian federation in November following a report by a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission that said there was state-sponsored doping and mass corruption in Russian athletics.
The ban was extended in March and Friday is seen as the last resort for the federation to be reinstated in the IAAF and its athletes allowed to compete at the Rio Olympics.
The consequences are enormous. A vote to extend the ban would deprive the Olympics of one of track and field's powerhouse nations. An easing of the ban could potentially undermine the IAAF given the latest damning WADA report chronicling that hundreds of attempts to carry out drug tests on Russian athletes this year had been thwarted, with drug testers facing intimidation and threats from armed Russian security forces while athletes continued to evade doping control officers.
The WADA summary, which was compiled with the help of UK Anti-Doping, said more than 736 tests between February 15 and May 29 were declined or cancelled for a variety of reasons ranging from sample collection or athlete whereabouts.
YULIYA STEPANOVA TO COMPETE IN RIO?
The irony of the whole Russian doping story is that Yuliya Stepanova could be left as the only Russian sanctioned to compete in Rio.
The 800m runner, who has served a two-year doping ban, was with her husband Vitaly and was one of the key whistleblowers behind the doping/corruption scandal that has rocked track and field.
She has since settled in the United States, dubbed a traitor in her native Russia. The IAAF has been looking into her eligibility to compete independently of Russia in what would be the most ironic of twists.
MARKUS REHM: DOES THE OLYMPICS WANT THE BLADEJUMPER?
A sensitive third topic awaits the 27-member IAAF Council: whether to give German Markus Rehm, the current paralympic long-jump champion with a best mark of 8.40 metres, the green light to compete against able-bodied rivals at the Olympics.
A study published last month said it was unclear whether his carbon-fibre prosthesis gave him an advantage. Published by the renowned German sports university in Cologne, the study said it was "difficult, if not impossible" to determine whether paralympic athletes get an advantage over the able-bodied when they compete with a prosthesis.
Rehm, who lost his lower right leg in a wakeboarding accident as a 14-year-old, hopes to become the second athlete with a prosthesis to compete at both the Olympics and Paralympics after South African runner Oscar Pistorius ran in the 400m and 4x400m relay at the 2012 London Games.
The 27-year-old Rehm will also definitely compete at the Paralympics, which will take place in Rio from September 7-18.