IAAF freezes transfer of Allegiance process

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The 208th IAAF Council Meeting chaired by IAAF President Sebastian Coe was held Monday, 6th February, 2017 at the Riviera Marriott Hotel, Cap d’Ail, France. Amongst main items on the agenda included; 

TRANSFER OF ALLEGIANCE

Following a proposal by Sebastian Coe, Council froze all new transfers of allegiance in athletics by exercising its powers under the Constitution to revoke Competition Rules 5.2(b), 5.4(d) and 5.4(e) with immediate effect. A working group was set up to study the subject area and will submit proposals for new rules as a matter of urgency not later than the end of this year.

The decision does not affect the 15 applications for transfer which are already in process.

Sebastian Coe commented: “It has become abundantly clear with regular multiple transfers of athletes especially from Africa that the present rules are no longer fit for purpose. Athletics, which at its highest levels of competition is a championship sport based upon national teams, is particularly vulnerable in this respect. Furthermore, the present rules do not offer the protections necessary to the individual athletes involved and are open to abuse.”

Hamad Kalkaba Malboum, Africa Area Group Representative on the IAAF Council, who will drive this piece of work with the working group chaired by Mr Hiroshi Yokokawa, said: “The present situation is wrong. What we have is a wholesale market for African talent open to the highest bidder. Our present rules are being manipulated to the detriment of athletics’ credibility. Lots of the individual athletes concerned, many of whom are transferred at a young age, do not understand that they are forfeiting their nationality. This must end and a new way forward found which respects the athletes’ rights and the sports’ dignity.”

IAAF TASKFORCE – RUSSIA

Rune Andersen, the independent chairman of the IAAF Taskforce, delivered its latest report on the reinstatement of the Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF).

The Taskforce’s recommendation, which Council approved, was that RusAF was not ready for reinstatement.

While acknowledging several positive developments at its recent meetings in Moscow last month with RusAF President Dimitri Shlyakhtin, Colonel Zherdev of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, 1500m runner Andrey Dmitriev and new Minister for Sport Pavel Kolobkov, the Taskforce pointed to some negative developments since its last report to Council in December. These have included unhelpful public comments recently made by some Russian sporting officials. RusAF also continues to face practical and legal difficulties in enforcing provisional doping bans and there continues to be very limited testing of Russian track and field athletes at the national level as well as troubling incidents at what testing is taking place.

Roadmap to reinstatement
The Taskforce set out a roadmap for RusAF’s reinstatement based upon the following milestones being met:      

- All outstanding Verification Criteria must be satisfied;

- The testing of Russian athletes must take place without further incidents or difficulties;

- RusAF explains why in the past it has been unable to and how in the future it will be able to enforce all suspensions imposed on athletes and athlete support personnel under its jurisdiction in an effective and timely fashion;

- There has been an appropriate official response by Russia to the McLaren findings that officials from the Ministry for Sport, the FSB, and the Centre for Sport Preparation were involved in the doping scheme, either by convincingly rebutting the findings or acknowledging and properly addressing them ;

- RusAF has taken demonstrable objective and practical steps to cultivate the clean sport movement championed by Andrey Dmitriev and other Russian athletes;

- WADA has reinstated RUSADA as the official, Code-compliant NADO for Russia.

Clear pathway to competition for clean athletes
It is the IAAF’s natural instinct to assist the competition opportunities of clean athletes. Since Russia’s suspension in November 2015, the IAAF has established a clear pathway for athletes who are not tainted by the Russian system to apply to compete internationally as neutral athletes while their federation remains suspended.

On 17 June 2016, Council amended Competition Rule 22.1 to allow athletes to apply for permission to compete, with guidelines for those applications published on 23 June 2016 and updated on 3 January 2017.

To facilitate this process, 30 Russian athletes were added to the IAAF International Registered Testing Pool (IRTP) in 2016. In addition, 10 athletes were added in January 2017, bringing the total of Russian athletes in the pool to more than 60.

Inclusion in the IRTP doesn’t guarantee an athlete’s application will be approved. There are other factors that will be considered by the Doping Review Board (DRB). In particular, the DRB continues to work through the evidence and intelligence concerning the names of the 200 Russian athletes forwarded by the McLaren investigation team.

Sebastian Coe commented:  “Our priority is to return clean athletes to competition but we must all have confidence in the process. Clean Russian athletes have been badly let down by their national system. We must ensure they are protected and that those safeguards give confidence to the rest of the world that there is a level playing field of competition when Russians return. This is why the IAAF has increased the number of Russians in the IRTP to guarantee they have undergone a long term recognised, independent and fully WADA Code-compliant drug-testing programme.”

As of today, 35 Russian athletes have so far applied in 2017 to compete as neutral athletes in international competition.

Today Council approved the Taskforce’s recommendation that RusAF be required to officially endorse each application submitted to the DRB.

Also upon the Taskforce’s further recommendation Council granted a blanket approval to all under-15 Russian athletes to compete in international competitions, such as the European Youth Olympic Festival, which will be held in Györ, Hungary from 22 to 30 July.

ANTI-DOPING – MOROCCO AND UKRAINE

In March 2016 the IAAF Council designated five countries as being in critical care concerning their national anti-doping programmes. The IAAF implemented an action plan to monitor compliance to IAAF Rule 30.6 with respect to the federations of Ethiopia, Morocco, Belarus, Kenya and Ukraine.

Today Council received presentations from Morocco and Ukraine on the progress they have made in 2016. Individual action plans are being prepared for the next six months in the lead up to the IAAF World Championships London 2017. Belarus, Ethiopia and Kenya will report again in three months and Ukraine will report on a monthly basis over that period.

BIDDING PROCESS – IAAF WORLD ATHLETICS SERIES

Council approved a proposal made by Sebastian Coe to no longer continue with the formal bidding process by which the IAAF has traditionally attracted applications to host IAAF World Athletics Series competitions, including the IAAF World Championships.

In future, the IAAF will now assess the strategic goals for growing the sport in relation to each IAAF competition, targeting cities from countries and regions which will best assist the delivery of those aims. The aim is to create a true partnership matching the hopes and ambitions of potential hosts with those of the IAAF.

The new selection process will commence with the awarding of IAAF World Athletics Series events after 2021, until then the established bidding process will continue.

IAAF