Kremlin: Suspension of Russian sports officials won't affect Olympics
MOSCOW – The provisional suspension of several Russian athletics officials will not affect the country's participation in next year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo, the Kremlin said on Friday.
"This situation undeniably requires attention of our sports authorities. I am convinced the issue is being addressed," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in comments carried by state news agency TASS.
"I don't see any direct links with the Olympics participation," Peskov added.
On Thursday, the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) provisionally suspended seven people, including Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) president Dmitry Shlyakhtin, executive director Alexander Parkin and anti-doping coordinator Elena Ikonnikova, in connection with a whereabouts rules violations investigation around high jumper Danil Lysenko.
The 2017 world championship silver medallist Lysenko was suspended in August, and the AIU alleges that RusAF officials were involved in forged documents being sent to the AIU to explain why he was not available for tests.
This case mounts further pressure on Russia which was suspended from the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang in connection with wide-ranging doping practices in the country, with its athletes only able to compete as neutrals.
Russia was last year reinstated by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) but could be declared non-compliant again over alleged manipulation of samples WADA obtained from the Moscow anti-doping lab.
The AIU spoke of "serious breaches" of anti-doping rules by RusAF, "including a failure to cooperate with an investigation and obstructing an investigation."
It said it has concluded in its 15-month probe that "RusAF officials had been involved in the provision of false explanations and forged documents to the AIU in order to explain whereabouts failures by the athlete."
Shlyahtin said late Thursday he would temporarily leave his post in the wake of the suspension.
"It is important to understand the circumstances of these accusations, and it will be possible only after consulting lawyers. Resignation? Let's wait for the presidium session which will be held in the nearest future, and everything will be sorted out there," Shlyahtin told TASS.
"Of course, I will temporarily leave the post for the time of provisional suspension, and I will defend my name in court as well."
RusAF has until December 12 to respond and the case will then go before the council of the ruling body World Athletics (WA).
"We have received the documents today [Thursday], at the moment the lawyers are studying the factual background and the charges brought against them ... An investigation is underway, its details are confidential," RusAF spokeswoman Natalya Yukhareva told TASS.
RusAF has been suspended by WA since 2015 over doping practices. But Russian athletes can compete as neutrals at events, if approved by WA.dpa