Russian track athletes move closer to regaining international eligibility

IAAF President Sebastian Coe looks on during a Feb. 6 news conference in Monaco.
IAAF President Sebastian Coe looks on during a Feb. 6 news conference in Monaco.
(Valery Hache / AFP/Getty Images)

A day after Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed to fight doping in his country, the head of the international track federation voiced optimism about lifting the ban on Russian athletes by year’s end.

Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF, told BBC Radio 4 on Thursday that Russia has finally “grasped the enormity of the challenge” arising from evidence of widespread cheating among its athletes, coaches and officials.

The entire Russian track team has been banned from international competition since late 2015.

“We should acknowledge the progress that is being made,” Coe said. “We need to make sure that we continue to do everything we can to get clean Russian athletes back into the international fold.”

Anti-doping officials have drawn up a list of changes to be made, and the World Anti-Doping Agency recently said it was encouraged by recent developments in Russia.


Though Putin has refuted claims that government officials were involved in the systemic cheating, he has acknowledged the anti-doping system in his country failed.

The IAAF could provisionally reinstate Russia by May, with a potential full reinstatement in November.

In the meantime, the international federation has received dozens of applications from Russians wishing to compete under a neutral flag.

Several have already been cleared to enter competitions as unaffiliated with any country.

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