Russia publicly apologized for the doping scandal that got the country suspended from international track and field by the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) in November of 2015. The apology came from Russia’s athletics boss Dmitry Shylakhtin in front of an IAAF Congress on Thursday on the eve of this month’s World Athletics Championships in London, England.
“I would like to apologize to all athletes who have had gold and silver medals snatched from them at competitions,” Shylakhtin said. “I can assure you that our new team will fight doping and what happened will never happen again.”
The apology has been called an “important development,” prompting global athletics boss Sebastian Coe to praise Russia for a “candid response.” It didn’t, however, stop the IAAF Congress from voting in favor of maintaining the ban in the form of 166 votes to 21. Russia needs at least two-thirds of the votes to be reinstated. Nevertheless, Coe said it was a constructive day even though it ultimately isn’t the time to reinstate Russia.
“We need to do everything over the next few months to normalize this situation,” he said.
Investigator for the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) Richard McLaren first uncovered the “state-run doping scheme” that ran from 2011 to 2015. According to McLaren’s report, there were 312 positive tests that Russia’s deputy minister of sport ordered lab workers to withhold from WADA. Russia’s intelligence service was also involved in the process. 68 Russian athletes were eventually banned by the IAAF from competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics because of the scandal.
The 19 Russian athletes at the World Athletics Championships this month will compete as neutrals. Russia could be reinstated by November if they meet the steps set out by WADA’s “Roadmap to Code Compliance,” according to the BBC.