Monaco, March 24: The World Athletics Council has agreed to reinstate the Russian Federation (RusAF) following seven years of suspension due to egregious institutional doping violations but the ban on Russia and Belarus over the war in Ukraine continues.

Because of this, athletes, officials and supporting personnel from Russia and Belarus are still excluded from competition for the foreseeable future due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The decision was taken during the World Athletics Council meeting held in Monaco on Thursday.

The Council approved the Russia Taskforce's recommendation that RusAF, which has been suspended for seven years due to doping, be reinstated after meeting all the requirements of the Reinstatement plan, which has been confirmed by an independent audit.

However, RusAF will be required to comply with a set of 35 'Special Conditions' that are intended to ensure that RusAf's anti-doping reforms remain in place and continue to operate effectively.

These Special Conditions are designed to enable the Athletics Integrity Unit to monitor, evaluate, communicate, mentor, oversee, and assist RusAF and its external stakeholders to ensure they maintain good governance practices and to protect RusAF from external pressures and attempts to influence or control its functioning.

They focus on four areas organisational good governance, protection from inappropriate external influence and control, operational capability and capacity (with a particular emphasis on ethical and anti-doping requirements, and change in the regions), and budget allocation and fiscal management.

These Special Conditions are intended to be applied for three years, with a review at the end of that period to determine whether or not it is necessary to maintain those conditions (as they are or with variations) for a further period, the World Athletics informed in a release on Thursday night.

Further, the Athletics Integrity Unit has determined that RusAF should be categorised as a Category 'A' member federation after its reinstatement.

That means that RusAF will have to comply not only with the general obligations applicable to all member federations but also with the special obligations applicable to Category 'A' member federations like being subjected to greater scrutiny and more testing requirements.

The Taskforce confirmed that RusAF has paid all of the costs of the reinstatement process until the end of 2022. World Athletics will invoice RusAF in early April for the costs incurred by it in January-March, and the prompt payment of that invoice will be one of the Special Conditions.

RusAF must also pay all of the costs incurred by the AIU in overseeing RusAF's compliance with the Category A requirements and the Special Conditions over the next three years, as well as any World Athletics costs in connection with this oversight.

s a consequence of these decisions, the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) programme will be discontinued, and the Doping Review Board, which rules on ANA applications, will be stood down, the release said.

The Russia Taskforce, having completed its work, will be disbanded and the two international experts who have advised it will be stood down.

(IANS | Posted on 24 March 2023, 1695525375 44O192O254O173)