IAAF denies promising Russia reinstatement for worlds

MOSCOW (AP) — The IAAF has denied promising that Russia will be reinstated in time for the track and field world championships, after Russian state TV quoted the country’s top track official as saying he’d received guarantees.

Broadcaster Match TV published Thursday what it said were remarks from Dmitry Shlyakhtin at a meeting with athletes this week, saying “we will go to Doha (for the championships) under the Russian flag. At least, those promises have been made to me.”

The Russian track federation didn’t respond to a request for comment.

The IAAF said in a statement that “no promises have been made” to Russia, which had its suspension from international competitions extended Sunday. Under the current conditions, individual Russians can enter as “authorized neutral athletes” after passing IAAF vetting of their drug-test history.

“The IAAF will continue to confirm eligibility of athletes for the IAAF World Championships Doha 2019 in the usual way through our Doping Review Board until such time the reinstatement conditions have been met to the satisfaction of the Taskforce and the IAAF Council,” track’s world governing body added.

Match TV cited Shlyakhtin as saying he expected reinstatement to be gradual, with the current neutral squad entered for Doha but in Russian uniforms under the Russian flag. Other athletes would supposedly become eligible to compete in a staggered process while old drug-test samples are retested.

Shlyakhtin himself has come under fire from some Russian athletes, who say not enough progress has been made on anti-doping reforms under his watch. According to the Match TV report, he suggested one of his biggest critics, world high jump champion Mariya Lasitskene, could lose her neutral status for criticizing him.

Russia has been barred from international track and field since 2015 after investigations revealed widespread doping.