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Time running out for Russia, athletics boss says

18 January 2016, 21:11

Moscow - The newly-elected boss of Russia's athletics federation on Monday admitted that it will be tough to end a ban imposed on the country's athletes over doping in time for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Dmitry Shlyakhtin was chosen as head of the All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) on Saturday and was charged with the task of repairing the damage done to the reputation of Russia's athletes.

But the former regional sports official rated Moscow's chances of overcoming the ban in time for the Rio Games at just fifty-fifty.

"I think that currently we have an even chance of competing at the Olympics," Shlyakhtin said. "We need to do our best to boost our athletes' chances day by day."

Also read: A'There was no IAAF cover-up,' says Coe

"We're pressed for time as the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) expects us to take hard and drastic measures as soon as possible," Sport-Express daily quoted Shlyakhtin as saying.

"In March we must report to the IAAF council what we have done. We need to convince them that we're making revolutionary changes in Russia's athletics.

"Of course there will be doubts about our capability to change the existing practices in our athletics within just several weeks."

Shlyakhtin is backed by Russia's Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko and he was elected unanimously to head the ARAF over the weekend after two candidates withdrew from the vote.

Mutko has said he will serve as head of the federation for the next several months, through the Olympic Games in Rio, before another vote in September or October.

Russia is facing an uphill battle after a World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) independent commission alleged widespread state-sanctioned corruption and doping in the country's athletics.

The IAAF provisionally suspended ARAF in November and outlined strict reinstatement criteria last month, including severing ties with Russian athletics officials, officers or staff with any past involvement in doping.

The leadership of Russian anti-doping agency RUSADA, which WADA claimed provided advance notice to athletes about out-of-competition testing last month resigned en masse following a pledge by President Vladimir Putin to "do everything" to fight doping.

Over four thousand Russian athletes have been banned from international competition and sports authorities are launching reforms and making promises to get the ban lifted in time for Rio.



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