Russian Athletics Federation President Yurchenko resigns after missed deadline

RUSSIAN Athletics Federation (RusAF) President Yevgeny Yurchenko has resigned after the organisation missed a deadline to pay a fine to World Athletics.

Yurchenko has quit after less than six months in the role after the organisation failed to meet a deadline for a $6.31 million (£5 million/€5.6 million) fine, part of the reinstatement criteria following the nation’s doping scandal.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Yurchenko said he hoped the future leadership of RusAF would be able to resolve the crisis.

“I hope that the newly elected head of the All-Russian Athletics Federation will be able to move forward in resolving almost five-year difficulties in relations with World Athletics, and will also ensure that sufficient funding is raised for the development of the Federation,” he said.

World Athletics had fined RusAF $10 million (£8 million/€9 million) in March, in lieu of expelling the suspended organisation outright.

Half of the fine was due at the start of this month, as well as $1.31 million (£1 million/€1.1 million) in various costs.

In reaction to the missed deadline, World Athletics halted the work of the Doping Review Board which decides which Russians can compete with neutral status.

The Russian Taskforce overseeing reinstatement was also stood down.

RusAF is now facing expulsion, with World Athletics set to discuss the situation at a Council meeting on July 29 and 30.

Yurchenko had previously claimed he would take court action if Russian athletes are unable to compete internationally under neutral status.

During an interview on Russian television, Yurchenko said withdrawing the neutral status for Russian athletes would be a “monstrous violation of athletes’ rights”.

“I believe that we must go to court to protect this right,” he said, as reported by Russian news agency TASS.

The fine from World Athletics came after an investigation into world indoor high jump champion Danil Lysenko.

Seven RusAF officials – including then-President Dmitry Shlyakhtin – were charged by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) with obstructing an anti-doping investigation by forging documents to explain Lysenko’s missed tests.

The 23-year-old Lysenko now faces a ban of up to eight years.

RusAF has been suspended by World Athletics since November 2015 following revelations of state-sponsored doping.

The Lysenko affair plunged the organisation into further trouble and contributed to the AIU Board stating in a report earlier this year that the World Athletics Council should consider expelling RusAF.

Yurchenko was only elected as RusAF President in February, the sole candidate for the position after his remaining rivals withdrew from the election before the vote.

He replaced Shlyakhtin, who resigned after being charged by the AIU.

Yurchenko had previously served as first vice-governor of the Voronezh region.

His successor will be the third official to hold the position as President of RusAF this year.

“We are aware of this news but this is obviously an internal matter and we will wait to hear from RusAF,” a World Athletics spokesman told insidethegames.

Insidethegames

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