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Russian track and field president resigns amid doping stalemate

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MOSCOW (AP) — The president of the Russian track federation resigned Monday after less than five months in the job amid a stalemate with World Athletics regarding the country’s longstanding doping suspension and an unpaid $5 million fine.

In a brief statement on the federation website, Yevgeny Yurchenko didn’t give a reason for stepping down.

He said he wished his successor could “move forward to resolve the nearly five-year-long difficulties in relations with World Athletics and also make it possible to attract enough funding to develop the federation.”

The federation, known as RusAF, missed a July 1 deadline to pay the $5 million fine and $1.3 million in costs. Yurchenko said at the time it couldn’t afford to pay.

The fine was imposed after Yurchenko admitted wrongdoing on behalf of RusAF under its previous leadership. The federation had been accused of providing forged documents to give an athlete an alibi for being unavailable for doping testing. RusAF has been suspended since 2015 for widespread doping.

Also Monday, the president of the Russian Olympic Committee said in comments reported by state news agencies that an audit of the country’s anti-doping agency’s finances revealed irregularities.

The allegations could not immediately be verified, but ROC president Stanislav Pozdnyakov was quoted as saying the audit would be made public.

Russia track and field athlete clearance frozen due to unpaid fine

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MONACO — The program allowing Russian track athletes to compete internationally will be frozen because the country’s federation failed to pay a fine on time, World Athletics said Thursday.

The Russian track federation, known as RusAF, owes a $5 million fine and another $1.31 million in costs for various doping-related work and legal wrangles. World Athletics said RusAF missed Wednesday’s deadline to pay.

World Athletics said it would freeze the work of the Doping Review Board, which vets Russian athletes who want the “authorized neutral athlete” status that allows them to compete internationally, and its taskforce monitoring RusAF’s anti-doping reforms.

World Athletics said both bodies will be “put on hold” until its council meets to discuss the situation at the end of July.

“RusAF is letting its athletes down badly,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said in a statement. “We have done as much as we can to expedite our ANA process and support RusAF with its reinstatement plan, but seemingly to no avail.”

RusAF president Yevgeny Yurchenko earlier told the Tass state news agency that his federation’s finances were damaged by the coronavirus pandemic and that it had asked for more time to pay.

World Athletics’ statement didn’t directly address that issue, but said Russia hadn’t indicated when it would pay.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted to breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation.

The Athletics Integrity Unit said fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test.

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Russia names new men’s national hockey team coach

Valery Bragin
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MOSCOW — Russia hired Valery Bragin as coach of the men’s national hockey team on Friday as it gears up to defend its Olympic title in 2022.

Bragin moves up from his longtime role in charge of the Russian under-20 team, which he led to the silver medal at this year’s world junior championships.

The Russian Hockey Federation didn’t say for how long Bragin’s contract runs. Bragin said his main aim was to prepare the team for next year’s world championships with a focus on players from outside the NHL.

Bragin replaces former Toronto Maple Leafs player Alexei Kudashov, who moves into a consultant role with the national team after 11 months as head coach.

Bragin also takes over from Kudashov as head coach of club team SKA St. Petersburg, whose operations are tightly intertwined with those of the national team. Roman Rotenberg is the general manager for both teams and holds vice president roles in both the club and the federation.

Rotenberg said in a statement that Kudashov “cannot currently put his full focus on coaching work.” He did not elaborate further.

Three-time Stanley Cup champion Igor Larionov replaces Bragin in charge of the junior team.

Russia’s players won the men’s hockey gold medal at the 2018 Olympics under the “Olympic Athletes from Russia” name after the country was officially barred from the games for doping offenses.

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