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Paris 2024: the international athletics federation maintains the exclusion of Russians and Belarusians


The World Athletics Council, the international athletics federation, ruled : Russians and Belarusians remain “excluded” competitions in the discipline, due to the situation in Ukraine. At least in a ” near future “, announced its president, Sebastian Coe, Thursday, March 23. A working group on the subject will be established.

Less than a year and a half from the Olympic Games (JO) in Paris, an event in which athletics is the king sport, the position of the body was particularly awaited. As with many other disciplines, the qualifying period has already begun – including the marathon, race walk, combined events, relays and 10,000m.

Since the start of the invasion of Ukraine by Kremlin troops on February 24, 2022, with the help of Minsk, Sebastian Coe has expressed his hostility to the return of Russian and Belarusian athletes to the fold of world sport, without significant development of the conflict.

“As I noted when these measures were introduced last year, the unprecedented sanctions imposed on Russia and Belarus by countries and industries around the world appear to be the only peaceful way to disrupt and to disable Russia’s current intentions and restore peace. The death and destruction we have witnessed in Ukraine over the past year, including the deaths of some 185 athletes, has only strengthened my resolve in this regard.”the Briton said in a statement.

Ruling on transgender athletes

This decision effectively invalidates the Federation Council’s choice to lift the suspension of the Russian Athletics Federation for its involvement in a major doping scandal dating back to 2015.

After having ” recommended “ their exclusion from international competitions, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for its part expressed, at the end of January, its desire “to explore ways” to reintegrate Russian and Belarusian athletes. But under a neutral banner and as long as they don’t have “not actively supported the war”. This proposal triggered a request for “clarification” thirty countries, including France, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Poland, the United States and Canada.

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On March 10, another major Olympic sport, fencing, approved the return of fencers from both countries to the world circuit; the Ukrainian Federation announcing a few days later its choice to boycott the events where they would be present. As the debate continues to swell, the subject will be on the agenda of the IOC Executive Board, organized in Lausanne (Switzerland), from March 28 to 30.

In addition, in a completely different register, World Athletics announced on Thursday that “male and female transgender athletes who have experienced male puberty” would be banned from women’s athletics competitions “as of March 31”.

The World with AFP