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Sports

IAAF suspends Russia indefinitely

After a long wait, the International Association of Athletics Federation has decided that Russia will be indefinitely suspended. IAAF President Sebastian Coe said the move was a wake-up call for all involved.

The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has provisionally suspended Russia's track and field federation (ARAF) for an indefinite period. A 27-member council of the IAAF voted 22-1 on the decision through a telephone conference on Friday evening.

The suspension could include the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and Russia will also not be entitled to host the 2016 World Race Walking Cup in Cheboksary and the 2016 World Junior Championships in Kazan.

"Today we have been dealing with the failure of the ARAF (All-Russia Athletic Federation) and made the decision to provisionally suspend them, the toughest sanction we can apply at this time," IAAF president Sebastian Coe said.

"But we discussed and agreed that the whole system has failed the athletes, not just in Russia, but around the world. This has been a shameful wake-up call and we are clear that cheating at any level will not be tolerated."

Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko told the Associated Press the suspension "looks very strange" at this point in time. Mutko also believes the ban could be lifted before the world indoor champions in the United States in March 2016.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), whose 323-page report brought to light state-sponsored doping practices, welcomed the suspension.

"The decision is positive news for clean athletes worldwide," WADA spokesman Ben Nichols said.

Mikhail Butov, Russia's IAAF council member, abstained from the vote, but did participate in the teleconference. He could not give an indication of how long the ban could be, saying "the period is unfortunately not prescribed and therefore will depend on how convincing we are with our case and how objective the commission is."

Weltverband IAAF-Präsident Sebastian Coe

Sebastian Coe made a strong statement

"We know that we have problems, not a few of them, and we have taken real steps to correct them," Butov said on the suspension. He also expects Russia to take part in the Olympics next year, and hopes Russia's "clean athletes can compete internationally."

'Clean athletes' also banned

Russia's anti-doping agency was the subject of a report the WADA published on Monday. The report detailed a state-sponsored doping cover-up, which included fraudulent tests and destroyed medical samples.

Mutko offered "broad cooperation" from Russia's anti-doping agency on Friday morning, going as far as suggesting deep departmental reform. He was also critical of the IAAF's approach to previous doping cases not involving Russia.

"The IAAF since 2008 or 2009 hid not just Russian athletes' samples but 155 cases that they then pulled out with about 15 of our athletes," said Mutko.

Yelena Isinbayeva, a three-time world champion pole vaulter from Russia, expressed her disdain for a possible ban early on Friday, saying "to ban innocent ... athletes from competing in international events and (the) Olympic Games in Rio is not fair."

"All my victories are honest, 'clean' and deserved," she continued. "I have always followed and am following all the anti-doping rules precisely. The situation the Russian national team is in now is very sad but I ask you not to treat all the athletes in the same negative way."

dv/jh (AP, AFP)

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