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Russia Warned Athletics Ban Over Doping Could Be Strengthened

IAAF President Sebastian Coe (file photo)
IAAF President Sebastian Coe (file photo)

Russia's ban from international athletics over widespread doping was extended by the sport's governing body on March 6 and the country was warned it could face further sanctions this year.

The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said it would consider in July withdrawing permission for "clean" Russian athletes to compete as neutrals in track and field events "if progress is not made."

It might even consider making the ban on Russia competing in global athletics events permanent, the association's governing body said after a meeting in Birmingham, England.

Russia has been banned from the sport since November 2015 after a World Anti-Doping Agency report documented widespread doping in Russia.

Despite the ban, Russian athletes who proved they were free of doping have been allowed to compete as neutrals at world championships.

Russia's leaders have repeatedly denied state involvement in doping -- a key sticking point in considering whether to lift the ban, the association said.

And while Russia's anti-doping agency has made some needed reforms, the association said that Russia's anti-doping plans still do not include "an adequate amount of testing," among other deficiencies.

Dmitry Shlyakhtin, the head of Russian athletics, said he would seek a meeting with IAAF president Sebastian Coe and doping expert Rune Andersen to argue Russia's case.

Russia was banned from the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, last month while Russian athletes proved "clean" were allowed to compete as neutrals. The International Olympic Committee reinstated Russia after the Olympics concluded.

Based on reporting by Reuters, dpa, and AFP

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