On Thursday afternoon, the World Athletics Council announced the reinstatement of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) following a seven-year doping suspension. Despite their reinstatement into the sport, however, Russia will remain banned from competition due to its ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
“Athletes and officials for Russia and Belarus are still excluded for the foreseeable future due to the invasion of Ukraine,” said World Athletics president Seb Coe.
The World Athletics Council has made a number of important decisions regarding the future participation of the Russian and Belarusian Member Federations in athletics, and the eligibility regulations for athletes who are transgender or who have Differences of Sexual Development.
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) March 23, 2023
In the case that Russia decides to leave Ukraine, Coe says his instinct is that the ban would be reversed, allowing Russian and Belarusian athletes to participate in all World Athletics events.
According to Rune Andersen, who served as the head of the World Athletics Task Force around reinstating the RusAF, told the WA Council that all required conditions have ultimately been met. RusAF has also accepted the ruling stating that there must be no backsliding from the new position.
“I believe RusAF still has a lot of progress to be made,” said Coe. RusAF has to follow 35 “special conditions” intended to ensure that anti-doping reforms remain in place, and continue to operate effectively. These special conditions will continue to be reviewed over the next three years.
The RusAF has been suspended from competing in World Athletics events since 2015 due to multiple doping violations. They are currently not eligible to host World Athletics events or send teams to international championships due to the World Athletics sanctions for the invasion of Ukraine.
“The integrity of our major international competitions has already been substantially damaged by the actions of the Russian and Belarusian governments through the hardship inflicted on Ukrainian athletes and the destruction of Ukraine’s sports systems,” said Coe in a press release. “Russian and Belarusian athletes, many of whom have military affiliations, should not be beneficiaries of these actions.”
The World Athletics stance on Russia continues to contrast with that of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which is working to allow Russian and Belarusian competitors to participate in international competition and the Paris 2024 Games, as neutral athletes.
World Athletics bans transgender athletes from female category
The reinstatement of RusAF was one of four noteworthy announcements to come from the 2023 World Athletics Council meetings.