By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s anti-doping chief has called for the dismissal of the head of the country’s suspended athletics federation as part of a proposal to ensure all Russian athletes can compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a letter seen by Reuters on Monday showed.
In the five-page letter addressed to Russian Olympic Committee President Stanislav Pozdnyakov, RUSADA Director Yuri Ganus proposed the dismissal of the federation’s senior officials, including its President Dmitry Shlyakhtin, and all national team athletics coaches, among several other measures.
“Given that there is critically little time left until the start of the 2020 Olympics, and there is much to do in coordination with (global athletics governing body) IAAF, work towards the transformation of the federation requires an immediate resolution,” Ganus wrote.
RUSADA and Russia’s athletics federation were suspended after a 2015 report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) found evidence of state-sponsored doping in Russian athletics.
RUSADA was reinstated last year by WADA, angering a string of sports bodies and athletes around the world.
Ganus also called for the creation of an international work group in which Russian and foreign experts would help bring the federation back into the International Association of Athletics Federation’s fold.
He also called for the dismissal of officials at sports schools and other training centres tied to the doping scandal, as well as officials who have served doping bans.
“The Russian athletics federation needs real change,” Ganus wrote. “We have to stop deceiving not only all those around us, but ourselves first and foremost.”
Russia’s athletics federation did not immediately reply to a request for comment, while Shlyakhtin could not be reached for comment.
The IAAF is set to review Russia’s status at its council meeting next month.
Despite the athletics federation being banned, some Russians – including twice world champion high jumper Maria Lasitskene — have been cleared to compete internationally after demonstrating they are training in a doping-free environment.
Russia was banned by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) from last year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games as punishment for alleged state-sponsored doping at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
However, some Russian athletes with no history of doping were cleared to compete as neutrals.
The IOC chose not to ban all Russian athletes from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics after a WADA-commissioned report by Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren revealed a state-backed doping programme across many sports.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Ken Ferris)