Dmitry Shlyakhtin

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Russian track and field president resigns as federation faces expulsion threat

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MOSCOW (AP) — The president of the Russian track and field federation resigned on Saturday, two days after he was accused of obstructing an anti-doping investigation involving fake medical documents.

Dmitry Shlyakhtin told an emergency federation conference in Moscow that he was stepping down. He was already provisionally suspended pending a full hearing on the charges from the Athletics Integrity Unit.

READ: Federation faces expulsion threat

Runner-turned-businesswoman Yulia Tarasenko has been appointed acting president.

Russia was hit by a double blow Friday as the World Anti-Doping Agency said a key panel had recommended the country be declared non-compliant for allegedly tampering with lab data in a separate case.

That could lead to Russia being banned from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Russia’s track team was reduced to a single athlete in 2016 amid earlier doping revelations.

Russia’s head track coach Yuri Borzakovsky indicated one path could be for Russia to compete at the Olympics as an officially neutral team, as it did at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“The main task is that the athletes and their coaches don’t suffer in the current situation, so that the guys can keep training for the Olympics and compete there,” he said. “In what status they compete, that’s another question.”

A politically well-connected regional sports minister, Shlyakhtin took office in January 2016 pledging to overturn Russia’s suspension from international track events due to widespread doping.

Nearly four years later, the suspension is still in place. World Athletics, formerly known as the IAAF, said Friday that Russia could be expelled altogether following the new charges against Shlyakhtin and senior officials.

World Athletics’ “statements are beyond comprehension,” Tarasenko said. She didn’t elaborate on how, or if, the federation intended to fight the charges.

“We’re not feeling very joyful, put it that way,” said Tarasenko, who was a sprinter in the 1990s and is now CEO of a company laying tracks. “We think there’s still some chance to keep fighting for the federation.”

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Russian track and field federation faces expulsion threat over new doping allegations

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MOSCOW (AP) — The governing body for track and field will consider expelling Russia from membership following new charges that senior officials faked medical records.

Russia has been suspended by World Athletics, formerly known as the IAAF, over widespread doping since 2015. There will be a review of whether vetted Russians should still be allowed to compete in international events as neutrals.

“We need to deal with renegade factions like this,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said Friday in Monaco.

World Athletics has frozen talks about lifting the long-running suspension and asked its Russia task force for recommendations on expelling the country’s track federation.

“It’s not symbolic,” said Coe, who said the charges and suspensions against Russian officials were so wide-ranging that they left the task force with almost no one left to talk to.

One route could be to close the Russian track federation and set up a new national governing body. Russia’s sports minister said he had referred the federation to a commission which oversees such matters.

Federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin and four other senior officials are accused of obstructing the investigation into 2017 world championship silver medalist Danil Lysenko, who was accused last year of failing to make himself available for drug testing.

Lysenko allegedly provided fake medical documents as an alibi with help from the officials. He and his coach have also been suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit pending full disciplinary hearings.

Also Friday, the three-time world high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene assailed Russian track leaders after they were charged Thursday, saying they have made a “doping nightmare” even worse.

Lasitskene called for swift and radical reforms, and the removal of officials appointed by Shlyakhtin.

Shlyakhtin took office shortly after the federation was suspended from international competition for widespread doping. The suspension remains in place four years later.

“The new team, whose task was to take us out of this doping nightmare, has turned out no better than the old one. And in some ways worse,” Lasitskene wrote on Instagram. “Shlyakhtin and his team must quit their posts immediately and never come back. And I will make sure this happens.”

Lasitskene has won two of her three world titles as a neutral athlete as a result of Russia’s suspension, which also caused her to miss the 2016 Olympics.

“Our track and field is in its death throes and we can’t procrastinate anymore,” she wrote. “We’ve lost four years already. Clean athletes are still defenseless and not sure they’ll be able to compete tomorrow.”

Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov expressed concern about the “emergency situation” and referred the federation to a ministry commission which could officially withdraw its government recognition.

“The future fate of the track and field federation will be examined,” Kolobkov said Friday in a video statement. “For us now, the main thing is that the training process isn’t interrupted. That means all of the athletes will get the help they need to continue the training and competition process.”

Earlier, the Kremlin said the charges against Shlyakhtin and others won’t derail the country’s preparations to compete in next year’s Olympics.

“Undoubtedly, this (situation) requires attention from the sports authorities, and I’m sure they’re dealing with it,” said Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “But I don’t see a direct connection with Russia’s participation in the Olympics here.”

With Shlyakhtin suspended, the federation is set to select an interim president at a board meeting on Saturday.

Russia is also facing a World Anti-Doping Agency ruling next month on whether it manipulated data from a lab in Moscow.

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Russia track and field chief: Athletes should be ‘ashamed’ to want Russia out of Olympics

Dmitry Shlyakhtin
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MOSCOW (AP) — Any athletes that want to keep Russians from competing at this year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro should be “ashamed,” the president of country’s track and field federation said Tuesday.

Dmitry Shlyakhtin was elected president of the track federation last month on a promise to fulfill IAAF demands for anti-doping reform in Russia. The country was banned from track and field in November when a World Anti-Doping Agency commission report detailed systematic, state-sponsored doping.

“To take away a strong opponent and then win, that’s the position of a weak person,” Shlyakhtin said when asked about those who oppose Russian inclusion in the Olympics. “Let them be ashamed if they do that, whether they win or they don’t win. It’s illegal, undeserved.”

Shlyakhtin also said he believes the IAAF will drag out its decision on Russia’s readmission and that July will be “the point of no return” for Olympic eligibility. Shlyakhtin met IAAF president Sebastian Coe on Feb. 12 for the first time since he was elected.

Last month, American athletes sent a letter to International Olympic Committee and WADA leaders urging an investigation of possible Russian doping in sports other than track and field.

Also Tuesday, Olympic steeplechase champion Yulia Zaripova returned to competition following a doping ban for abnormal blood data, coming third in a 3,000-meter race at the Russian indoor nationals.

Zaripova’s time of 9 minutes, 1.20 seconds was almost seven seconds off her personal best for the event.

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