Pole vault world champion Anselika Sidorowa may well start in TokyoPhoto:
Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP
Thanks to government intervention, Russia's athletes are likely to escape expulsion from the world association. The country's sports ministry announced on Wednesday that it would accept the fine, which was actually due on July 1, in the wake of the massive doping and fraud scandal. Sebastian Coe, President of the World Athletics Federation, recently extended the deadline for paying the equivalent of 5.37 million euros to August 15.
If the money had not been transferred in time, the participation of Russian athletes in the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year would have been extremely questionable. The Rusaf Association had recently repeatedly stressed that it did not have "sufficient funds".
Now the Ministry jumped aside. "An unprecedented decision has been made to provide the Russian Athletics Federation with a grant to help develop the sport, including paying off debts to World Athletics," the statement said in a statement.
Stars like high jump world champion Marija Lassizkene, hurdler Sergej Schubenkow or pole vault world champion Anselika Sidorowa can breathe a sigh of relief. Rune Andersen, head of the task force in the Russia case, had recently stated that Russian athletes could continue to apply for neutral athlete status if the fine was paid on time and further reinstatement requirements were met.
"Defending the interests of Russian athletes" and "restoring the right of Russian athletes to participate in international competitions" are among the "priorities" of the Ministry of Sports, the ministry stressed in its statement. The motto of zero tolerance towards doping continues to apply.
The athletics federation under the leadership of Coe had already excluded the Russian athletes from the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Since Russia was suspended in November 2015 due to the massive fraud scandal, new violations have become apparent, but unaffected athletes have been allowed to compete under a neutral flag in international competitions. This was most recently the case in athletics at the 2019 World Cup in Qatar. If the fine had not been paid, this special permit would have been collected. The process of allowing Russian athletes to apply for neutral athlete status remained on hold pending payment.Icon: The mirror
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