Vienna - Scandal-hit Russia will likely
discover on Friday that it has not done enough to get back into world track and
field's governing body, the IAAF, in time for its athletes to compete at the
The 27-member IAAF Council meets in Vienna
to decide whether to readmit Russia under the presidency of Sebastian Coe,
himself the target of allegations that he enlisted the help of the fugitive son
of disgraced predecessor Lamine Diack to secure his election last year.
The IAAF provisionally suspended the
All-Russian Athletic Federation (ARAF) in November over a bombshell report by a
World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission that said there was
state-sponsored doping and mass corruption in Russian athletics.
Coe has previously stressed that the ban
will only be lifted if there is clear evidence of a "verifiable change
both in anti-doping practice and culture".
The ban has already been extended once, in
March, and following the latest damning WADA report released on Wednesday, the
likelihood of Russia's immediate reinclusion looks remote.
WADA said 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.
"What really comes through, when you
read through it page by page by page, is the number of occasions when there was
simply no cooperation given," former WADA president Dick Pound, co-author
of the initial report into doping in Russia, told the BBC.
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has
wavered between contrite apology and brash counter-attack as Moscow lobbies
heavily for its reinclusion in time for the Rio Games.
"At the end of the day we have
fulfilled all the criteria, everything that they demanded of us. All the
athletes are under control," a defiant Mutko told Interfax news agency on
"There were 100 criteria presented to
us, and in my opinion we have fulfilled them all."
In its bid to overturn the ban, Russia has
announced a raft of reforms including changing top officials and introducing
compulsory anti-doping classes in schools to reform attitudes toward the use of
Russia's anti-doping agency RUSADA will
develop a special curriculum, based on WADA guidelines, for the 3,000 sports
schools where the country's elite athletes train.
Commentators have suggested that the
International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is to meet in Lausanne on June 21
on eligibility issues, could offer an olive branch to Russia by opening up
participation in Rio for certain doping-vetted Russian athletes.
"It's a plausible option," French
athletics federation president and IAAF Council member Bernard Amsalem said.
Russian Olympic Committee head Alexander
Zhukov said there were about 100 track and field athletes on Russia's Olympic
team and barring them from Rio would be a "blow to the Olympic
"The Olympic Charter is based on the
premise that everyone should participate," he told Echo of Moscow radio
station, adding he hoped that IAAF makes an "objective, balanced
decision" on Friday.
Athletes have criticised the blanket
federation ban, saying clean competitors should not assume collective
"I do not think it is fair to forbid
me and other clean Russian athletes to compete - athletes who have repeatedly
proved they are innocent of cheating," star pole vaulter Yelena
Isinbayeva, who is training for her final Olympic Games, wrote in an op-ed
published Thursday in the New York Times.
Mutko spoke of the "constant pressure
now on the commission and the IAAF Council", and also hinted at possible
legal action should Russian athletes not be reinstated.
"I think we must move to the legal
plane," he said, with Russia able to take any IAAF decision to the Court
of Arbitration for Sport. "I don't rule out that we will make this move in
the near future."