Russian high jump star hits out at slow pace of reforms

MOSCOW (AP) Russia’s only reigning athletics world champion said Friday that the country isn’t moving fast enough with reforms that could see its doping ban lifted.

High jumper Maria Lasitskene accused Russian officials of not doing enough to end a sanction which caused many athletes to miss the 2016 Olympics and last month’s world championships.

”Unfortunately there hasn’t been any visible progress in two years from the All-Russian Athletics Federation” toward reinstatement, she said in comments to Russian news agencies.

Russia has been barred from international track and field since November 2015, when a World Anti-Doping Agency investigation alleged widespread drug use and official cover-ups.

The IAAF, track’s world governing body, wants Russia to reform its anti-doping procedures and accept responsibility for past failings.

A few dozen Russians, including Lasitskene, have been allowed to compete as neutrals after applying to the IAAF with details of their drug-testing history.

When Lasitskene won world championship gold in London last month, the Russian flag wasn’t displayed and the IAAF anthem was played. The 19 Russians who competed won five silver medals, but Lasitskene said the country’s athletics federation officials shouldn’t claim the credit.

”I don’t want them to use our results as cover and say it’s a step forward,” Lasitskene said. ”We’d have been jumping anyway.”

Lasitskene had no right to criticize officials, said federation head Dmitry Shlyakhtin, who took office in January 2016, shortly after Russia was banned.

”Judging the federation’s work is the prerogative of the IAAF taskforce and the Russian Sports Ministry,” he told Russian agency R-Sport. ”Athletes should do their job, whether it’s jumping or running on tracks.”