PARIS: World Athletics announced on Thursday the provisional suspension of the process of allowing Russian athletes to return to competition as the country’s athletics federation (RusAF) had failed to pay a fine for breaking doping rules.

RusAF had until July 1 to send the global body a $5 million fine and $1.31 million in other costs following accusations it had helped 2017 world high jump silver medallist Danil Lysenko avoid a sanction for failing to comply with anti-doping measures.

On Wednesday, RusAF’s president Yevgeny Yurchenko, appointed in February, said it had been unable to send the funds due to a lack of resources linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We recognise these are difficult times, but we are very disappointed by the lack of progress made by RusAF in terms of the requirements set in March,” World Athletics president Sebastian Coe said.

“The serious allegations of breaching the anti-doping rules resulted in a new RusAF administration and we had assurances and hoped that change was on its way,” he added.

Last November, World Athletics had frozen the process before allowing 10 Russian athletes to compete at the Tokyo Olympics in exchange for the fine being paid.

Russian stars Maria Lasitskene, Sergey Shubenkov and Anzhelika Sidorova last week spoke with President Vladimir Putin about the situation of their sport and called on him to act so they could feature at next year’s Olympics in Japan.

Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2020