World Athletics ends Russia ban over state-sponsored doping but maintains Ukraine invasion sanction

World Athletics ends Russia ban over state-sponsored doping but maintains Ukraine invasion sanction

World Athletics has voted to end its eight-year ban of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) but the country's athletes, and those of Belarus, will remain excluded from international competition because of an ongoing, separate ban over the invasion of Ukraine.

RusAF was banned in 2015 after the discovery of massive, state-sponsored doping and related cover-ups. A failure to meaningfully address the issue meant that the suspension remained in place.

However, Rune Andersen, head of WA's Russia Task Force, reported that he was finally satisfied with the “new culture of good governance and zero tolerance for doping throughout the organisation” and WA's Council subsequently voted on Thursday to lift the ban.

In recent years dozens of Russian athletes had been allowed to compete as neutrals if they could show a doping-free background.

But they too remain unable to compete after the Council voted to maintain the blanket ban on Russian and Belarusian athletes that came into force soon after the invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

This decision follows that of the European Athletics Council, who said last week that Russian and Belarusian athletes should remain banned from its events until the war in Ukraine is ended.

The International Olympic Committee is exploring a pathway for Russian and Belarusian athletes to compete as neutrals at next year's Olympic Games in Paris.

However, it appears likely they will not be able to feature in athletics in Paris, arguably the highest-profile Olympic sport.

World Athletics president Sebastian Coe told a press conference: “The World Athletics Council approved to continue to exclude Russian and Belarus athletes from all World Series events for the foreseeable future due to the invasion and ongoing war in Ukraine.”

The World Athletics Council has also decided to exclude transgender women from female events.

Coe added: “The World Athletics Council has today taken decisive action to protect the female category in our sport and do so by restricting the participation of trans athletes.”

Additional reporting by Reuters