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World Athletics Council sanctions Russia and Belarus

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The World Athletics Council has today agreed to impose sanctions against the Member Federations of Russia and Belarus as a consequence of the invasion of Ukraine.

All athletes, support personnel and officials from Russia and Belarus will be excluded from all World Athletics Series events for the foreseeable future, with immediate effect.

Upcoming events include the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22, and the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22, which begin on Friday in Oman (4 March).

The Council also agreed to consider further measures, including the suspension of the Belarus Federation, at its scheduled Council meeting next week (9-10 March).

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The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) has been suspended from World Athletics since 2015, due to doping violations, and therefore is not currently eligible to host World Athletics events or send teams to international championships.

The Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process remains in place but Russian athletes who have received ANA status for 2022 are excluded from World Athletics Series events for the foreseeable future.

This means that all Russian ANA or Belarusian athletes currently accredited for the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships Muscat 22 and the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 (18-20 March) will have their accreditation withdrawn and entries denied, as will any support personnel and officials.

In an address to the Council, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe said: “The world is horrified by what Russia has done, aided and abetted by Belarus. World leaders sought to avoid this invasion through diplomatic means but to no avail given Russia’s unswerving intention to invade Ukraine. The unprecedented sanctions that are being imposed on Russia and Belarus by countries and industries all over the world appear to be the only peaceful way to disrupt and disable Russia’s current intentions and restore peace.

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“Anyone who knows me will understand that imposing sanctions on athletes because of the actions of their government goes against the grain. I have railed against the practice of politicians targeting athletes and sport to make political points when other sectors continue about their business. This is different as governments, business and other international organisations have imposed sanctions and measures against Russia across all sectors. Sport has to step up and join these efforts to end this war and restore peace. We cannot and should not sit this one out.”

World Athletics Athletes’ Commission chairs Renaud Lavillenie and Dame Valerie Adams welcomed the decision.

“We stand in solidarity with our fellow athletes, competitors, and friends from Ukraine who are facing far greater challenges than just disruptions to their training and competition, but are in fear of their lives and the lives of their loved ones,” Lavillenie said.

“While we understand the implications of this decision for Authorised Neutral Athletes from Russia and Belarusian athletes, who may not be condoning their nations’ deplorable military action in Ukraine, we cannot ignore the message that inclusion of these two nations’ athletes would send to our friends in Ukraine and the rest of the world.”

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In accordance with World Athletics rules, the Member Federations from Russia and Belarus have been informed of the Council’s decisions and have the right to respond. If necessary, the Council will reconvene to consider that response.

World Athletics

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