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Russia track and field panel resigns amid doping scandal

Russia track and field panel resigns amid doping scandal
Russian high-jumper Danil Lysenko, pictured at a 2018 event in Birmingham, Britain, was charged last fall with violating anti-doping rules. File Photo by Facundo Arrizabalaga/EPA-EFE

Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The entire executive committee of the organization that oversees Russia's national track and field team has resigned amid accusations of institutional doping and cover-ups.

The resignations of the Russian Athletics Federation, or RusAF, were announced Monday, and its responsibilities were given to a working group led by the Russian Olympic Committee.

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The departures followed a report by the international Athletics Integrity Unit last week that recommended RusAF be expelled from world track and field events permanently if doping and cover-up charges are ultimately upheld by the World Athletics Council.

High-jumper Danil Lysenko, former RusAF President Dmitry Shlyakhtin and others were charged in November with serious breaches of anti-doping rules, including failure to cooperate with an investigation and obstructing an investigation.

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Russia has been banned from international track and field competitions since 2015, and Russian Minister of Sport Oleg Matitsyn said it's time to make a clean break from the past.

"The crisis in Russia's track and field athletics has been lasting for five years, which is obviously too long a period," he said. "Our goal is to swiftly normalize cooperation with World Athletics to reinstate RusAF's membership. Our immediate tasks are to take necessary additional anti-doping measures and to ensure a possibility for our athletes to compete at international tournaments."

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Also Monday, the World Anti-Doping Agency requested a hearing before the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport concerning a non-compliance case against the Russian Anti-Doping Agency to be held in public due to global interest.

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"WADA's investigations on Russia, and this latest case of non-compliance, have generated huge interest around the world," WADA Director General Olivier Niggli said. "It is WADA's view -- and that of many of our stakeholders -- that this dispute at CAS should be held in a public forum to ensure that everybody understands the process and hears the arguments."

WADA last month imposed a four-year ban on Russian athletes in all sports from competing under their country's flag at global events, including the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. The Russian agency appealed the decision, referring it to the Swiss court.

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