Russia made an “important step” Thursday by publicly apologizing for the doping scandal that has seen the country barred from international track and field competition.
Dmitry Shlyakhtin, head of the Russian athletics federation (RusAF), made the apology in an address to the IAAF Congress meeting ahead of the world championships which get underway on Friday.
“The situation with athletics is very difficult indeed,” Shlyakhtin said, outlining that the federation had been totally overhauled since he took charge in early 2016 and that “radical changes” have been introduced.
“The initial period was not sufficient to understand the scale of the crisis happening in Russia.
“I’ve delved into this situation and understand that the decision by the IAAF and Council (to ban Russia) was the right one.
“I would like to apologise to all athletes who have had gold and silver medals snatched from them at competitions.”
Shlyakhtin added: “I can assure you that our new team will fight doping and what happened will never happen again.”
Rune Andersen, independent chairman of the IAAF Taskforce looking into doping in Russia, hailed the apology.
“It is fair to say that the path has not always been completely smooth. There have been some bumps along the way, usually in the form of political statements or interventions that have not been entirely helpful,” said Andersen.
“I want to pay tribute to Dmitry Shlyakhtin and the colleagues he brought with him when he was elected as RusAF president in early 2016. Dmitry clearly understands the need to change the doping culture that clearly existed in Russian athletics in the past. He understands the harm that culture has cost clean athletes everywhere as the apology he just extended to those cheated out of medals demonstrates.
“It is a measure of the man and an important step on the road to rehabilitation of Russian athletics that he’s willing to acknowledge that offence publicly.”