IAAF: 'Little progress' by Russia to secure athletics return

LONDON (AP) Russia's lack of progress in cleaning up its doping culture and introducing a satisfactory testing regime continues to impede the country's reinstatement to athletics, the IAAF said on Thursday.

Providing its latest update on Russia's state-sponsored doping system, the IAAF also criticized the country's decision to make Yelena Isinbayeva the head of the country's scandalized anti-doping agency.

''It is difficult to see how this helps to achieve the desired change in culture in Russia track and field, or how it helps to promote an open environment for Russian whistleblowers,'' Russia task force chairman Rune Andersen said in his report to the IAAF Council.

Isinbayeva repeatedly criticized the World Anti-Doping Agency, framed doping investigations as an anti-Russian plot, and called for a leading whistleblower to be banned for life.

The two-time gold medalist and world-record holder missed the Rio de Janeiro Olympics because of a ban on Russia's athletics team that is unlikely to be lifted soon based on the IAAF's fresh concerns.

''There is no reason why better progress has not been made,'' IAAF President Sebastian Coe said, ''and RUSAF (Russia's athletics federation) should be under no illusion at all that we will stick to this. The criteria are serious and will be followed through.''

But they currently are not, according to Coe, who insists the IAAF will not soften its tough stance.

''There is testing but it is still far too limited,'' Coe said. ''The Russian investigative committee is still refusing to hand over athlete biological passport samples for independent testing from labs, we still have got athletes in closed cities that are difficult or impossible to get to, the ongoing employment of coaches from a tainted system, and we have got the head coach of RUSAF effectively refusing to sign their own pledge to clean athletics.''

The IAAF is allowing some Russians to compete internationally as neutrals while their country remained banned, with 12 athletes proving they have been adequately tested for drugs over a lengthy period by non-Russian agencies.

The athletes are still ''subject to acceptance of their entries by individual meeting organizers,'' such as the Diamond League series, the IAAF has said. The 14-meet circuit opens on May 5 in Doha, Qatar.

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Rob Harris is at www.twitter.com/RobHarris and www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

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