Embattled Russian track president Dmitry Shlyakhtin resigns

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The president of the Russian track and field federation has resigned two days after he was accused of obstructing an anti-doping investigation involving fake documents

The president of the Russian track and field federation resigned on Saturday, two days after he was accused of obstructing an anti-doping investigation involving fake medical documents.

Dmitry Shlyakhtin told an emergency federation conference in Moscow that he was stepping down. He was already provisionally suspended pending a full hearing on the charges from the Athletics Integrity Unit.

Runner-turned-businesswoman Yulia Tarasenko has been appointed acting president.

Russia was hit by a double blow Friday as the World Anti-Doping Agency said a key panel had recommended the country be declared non-compliant for allegedly tampering with lab data in a separate case.

That could lead to Russia being banned from the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Russia’s track team was reduced to a single athlete in 2016 amid earlier doping revelations.

Russia’s head track coach Yuri Borzakovsky indicated one path could be for Russia to compete at the Olympics as an officially neutral team, as it did at the 2018 Winter Olympics.

“The main task is that the athletes and their coaches don’t suffer in the current situation, so that the guys can keep training for the Olympics and compete there,” he said. “In what status they compete, that’s another question.”

A politically well-connected regional sports minister, Shlyakhtin took office in January 2016 pledging to overturn Russia’s suspension from international track events due to widespread doping.

Nearly four years later, the suspension is still in place. World Athletics, formerly known as the IAAF, said Friday that Russia could be expelled altogether following the new charges against Shlyakhtin and senior officials.

World Athletics’ “statements are beyond comprehension,” Tarasenko said. She didn’t elaborate on how, or if, the federation intended to fight the charges.

“We’re not feeling very joyful, put it that way,” said Tarasenko, who was a sprinter in the 1990s and is now CEO of a company laying tracks. “We think there’s still some chance to keep fighting for the federation.”

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