By Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber
MOSCOW (Reuters) – The president of Russia’s athletics federation and several other federation officials were suspended on Thursday by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) for serious breaches of anti-doping rules.
The AIU, which oversees integrity issues in global athletics including doping, said the provisional suspensions were linked to an investigation into whereabouts violations committed by Russian high jumper Danil Lysenko, which they said the officials had obstructed.
It said the suspensions of seven people including federation president Dmitry Shlyakhtin, executive director Alexander Parkin, Lysenko and his coach Evgeny Zagorulko came after it concluded federation 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”.
Lysenko, who won silver in the high jump at the 2017 world championships, had been authorised to competed internationally as a neutral athlete by World Athletics, the sport’s global governing body formerly known as the IAAF.
But after failing to file his whereabouts on three occasions – which constitutes an anti-doping violation if it occurs in a 12-month period – Lysenko was provisionally suspended last year.
“The AIU investigated the veracity of the explanations provided by Danil Lysenko to explain his whereabouts failures and concluded that the explanations were false and supported by forged documents,” it said on Thursday.
Shlyakhtin could not be reached for comment. The Russian athletics federation said it would make a statement later on Thursday.
The AIU added that the Russian athletics federation had been issued a notice of charge for failing to comply with its obligations as a federation and was given until Dec. 12 to respond.
The Russian athletics federation has been suspended since a 2015 report commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which found evidence of widespread doping in the sport.
(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber, editing by Pritha Sarkar and Ed Osmond)