Tuesday 24 November, 2020

Russia says it can't afford to pay fine to World Athletics

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin.

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin.

Russia is expected to miss Wednesday's deadline to pay more than $6 million to the governing body of track and field.

Russian track federation president Yevgeny Yurchenko told the Tass state news agency on Wednesday that “the money, unfortunately, has not been found."

Russia has to pay a $5-million fine and what World Athletics said was a further $1.3 million in costs from investigations, monitoring programs, and legal battles linked to various anti-doping violations.

World Athletics said in March that it would suspend the “authorised neutral athlete” program, which allows Russians to enter international competitions even though their federation is suspended, if Russia didn't meet the July 1 deadline for the fine.

Russians with that neutral status won six medals at last year's world championships, including gold for Mariya Lasitskene in the high jump and for Anzhelika Sidorova in the pole vault.

The World Athletics council is next due to meet July 29-30.

Russia was fined $10 million by World Athletics in March, with $5 million suspended for two years, after the federation admitted breaking anti-doping rules and obstructing an investigation. The Athletics Integrity Unit alleged fake documents were used under the previous management to give an athlete an alibi for missing a doping test. Russia also has to pay the cost for the investigation.

That decision was issued 12 days before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said the Tokyo Games would be postponed until 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Yurchenko told Tass that World Athletics should take into account the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, which he said had further damaged the Russian track federation's finances.

Russian Sports Minister Oleg Matytsin told state news agencies on Wednesday that the federation had asked for more time to pay. He added that his ministry had written to World Athletics and the IOC asking them to ensure any sanctions for non-payment of the fine would not affect athletes' eligibility to compete.

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