April 09, 2016

MOSCOW (AP) The IAAF says the head of athletics in Belarus has avoided a lengthy ban after winning a marathon legal battle against the World Anti-Doping Agency.

Vadim Devyatovskiy faced a possible lifetime ban from all sports after a 2013 retest of a sample he gave as a hammer thrower at the 2005 world championships came back positive.

A three-year legal tussle ensued, with Devyatovskiy defying a provisional suspension to be elected as head of athletics in Belarus. He was previously banned for doping from 2000-02.

The most recent stage was a battle with WADA at the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the IAAF now says: ''WADA lost their appeal to CAS regarding Vadim Devyatovskiy, who is no longer provisionally suspended.''

The IAAF declined to provide further details, and WADA did not respond to a request for comment.

It is the second time Devyatovskiy has won a legal battle against a doping ban. In 2010, CAS ruled he could keep his hammer throw silver medal from the 2008 Olympics on appeal in a dispute with the International Olympic Committee.

On Friday, Devyatovskiy was present as IAAF president Sebastian Coe discussed doping with the longtime authoritarian president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko. Belarus has been dogged by doping scandals for years, and was put on the IAAF's watch list last month.

''The development of athletics in the country, and the construction of a robust national anti-doping program to build trust in competition were key topics in their discussions,'' the IAAF said in a statement.

European Athletics head Svein Arne Hansen, said on Twitter that doping was ''the main part of our discussion.'' Lukashenko, according to Hansen, ''confirmed that the eradication of doping from his national teams was his No. 1 priority.''

The IAAF refused to comment on reports in Belarusian state media that Coe pledged to help Belarus land the hosting rights for major athletics events. Belarus is hoping to host the 2019 European indoor championships.

Among Belarusian athletes serving doping bans is the country's only track and field champion from the 2012 Olympics, Nadzeya Ostapchuk, who was forced to return her shot put gold medal.

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