IAAF President Sebastian Coe has met with the new head of the Russian athletics federation, which was banned from world track and field in November over doping.
The Russian federation said today that Coe and Dmitry Shlyakhtin met on Friday in Monaco and discussed “Russian athletics and the way to lead it out of the crisis.”
Shlyakhtin briefed Coe on reforms in Russian track and field, saying they are “an issue that can’t be solved in one day and which requires systematic and painstaking work,” according to the Russian federation.
Russia was suspended from competition, including the Olympics in August, after a World Anti-Doping Agency commission accused it of operating a systematic and state-sponsored program of drug use by star athletes.
In order to be readmitted, the IAAF has demanded that Russia investigate whether there were more doping cases not covered in the WADA report, improve anti-doping education for athletes and submit to extra testing for its national team ahead of the Olympics.
The International Association of Athletics Federations did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
The Russian government has persistently denied any involvement in doping, saying that any drug use was isolated, and accused the WADA commission of tarnishing Russia’s reputation.
On Friday, Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko told the Tass news agency that Russian prosecutors had ruled any doping was not state-sponsored.
Today’s announcement from the Russian federation came as it held what would normally be a highlight of the domestic track calendar, the Russian Winter meet, which usually brings in star names from around the world. However, this year only Russian athletes competed, since Russia’s ban from world track and field also stops foreigners from competing at Russian events.
Organizers tried to use Russia’s ban to attract patriotic fans. In his opening speech, Moscow city government representative Alexei Vorobyov boasted that since Russian athletes are not allowed to compete abroad, the crowd would see “something that’s not available to anyone else.”
However, despite the presence of cheerleaders and a marching band on the track - an innovation that brought scorn from some athletes who said the performances had interrupted their warmups - the attendance appeared down on the previous year. Lacking international star power, the start lists saw established Russian names rub shoulders with little-known youngsters from the country’s regions.