President Vladimir Putin has instructed the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) to ensure the participation of all members of the Russian Olympic team in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, according to a statement on the Kremlin’s website. The ROC is also instructed to achieve the restoration of membership of the All-Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) in the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
The president’s instructions must be fulfilled by December 2, the message says. Putin also demanded “to strengthen systematic work” to protect athletes from Russia at international competitions.
At the end of March, Putin said that Moscow had complied with all the requirements of international organizations regarding the fight against doping. He emphasized that the remaining issues related to this topic should be closed so that “all members of our national team, without exception, could participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics”. The President urged not to give a reason to those “who use sports for political purposes.”
ARAF was stripped of its membership in the IAAF in November 2015 in connection with an anti-doping rule violation. An international organization accused Russia of systematic doping by Russian athletes. Because of this, the Russian team played at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil in a truncated composition. Athletes (except for the long jumper Daria Klishina), weightlifters, most of the rowing team and representatives of other sports were not admitted. In the same year, the president of the ARAF Valentin Balakhnichev, who had been in charge of the organization since 1990, resigned.
Later, the sanctions against ARAF were repeatedly extended. The last time the IAAF refused to reinstate the ARAF membership was in December 2018 due to non-compliance with the organization’s requirements. The condition for the restoration of ARAF membership in the IAAF was called access to samples of doping samples located in Moscow, and the payment by Russia of legal costs and the work of the commission for the study of samples.
Now athletes who have proven not to be involved in doping can participate in competitions under a neutral flag.