Russia to miss World Indoor Track and Field Championships

Russian athletes will miss the World Indoor Track and Field Championships in March, the first major event to affected by their national ban for an extensive doping campaign.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) announced Thursday that its five-person inspection team has not yet begun reviewing Russia’s attempts to comply with the reinstatement guidelines laid down as a result of last week’s ban.

The inspectors will not finish the review until the end of March, meaning the Russian team can’t be reinstated in time for the indoor championships, which will be held March 17-20 in Portland, Ore.

The bans stems from a 325-page report of an 11-month independent investigation produced by the World Anti-Doping Association (WADA). The review described a “deeply rooted culture of cheating” that included highly organizing doping plans for Russian athletes as well as “cover ups, destruction of samples [and] payment of money to conceal doping tests”. In one case, the head of Moscow’s drug-testing lab admitted to destroying over 1,400 suspicious samples just before WADA inspectors were due to arrive.

Newly appointed IAAF president Sebastian Coe, a gold medal winner in the 1500-meter run in both 1980 and 1984 and the organizer of the 2012 London Olympics, has said that the Russians will have to prove that they have completely brought their anti-doping plan into compliance with WADA standards if they want to be reinstated in time for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

At the moment, Russian athletes are banned from taking part in any IAAF-sanctioned competition, although they can still compete in national events. Viktor Ugarov won a marathon in Japan on Sunday, two days after the ban was put in place, but was disqualified and now faces further punishment for having competed while ineligible. Another Russian, Olympic bronze medalist Tatyana Arkhipova, was prevented from competing in a separate marathon in Japan.

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