European Athletics Chief Foresees Russian Absence from 2016 Olympics

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The head of European Athletics told a UK track and field publication he doesn’t think Russia’s track federation will be reinstated in time for the 2016 Olympics.

Svein Arne Hansen told Athletics Weekly that the Russian federation must undergo “a cultural change. They must get rid of all those people from before.”

Russia was suspended in November by track and field’s governing body, the International Association of Athletics Federations, and must undergo an inspection by an IAAF team, which is scheduled to visit in mid-January. The IAAF will issue a report two months later on whether Russia has reformed its system and met the IAAF criteria.

“We will have the first report to the IAAF in March but for the moment they have to really, really put a lot of effort in to compete in Rio,” Hansen said in a preview of the full interview published on the magazine’s website Tuesday.

The IAAF Council is scheduled to meet March 27 in Wales.

Hansen’s opinion is in contrast to what International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said in November, after a report by the World Anti-Doping Agency found Russia to have a “deeply rooted culture of cheating at all levels” of Russian athletics.

Bach told reporters he thought Russia would cooperate and make the progress necessary to compete by the time the Olympic Games begin in Brazil in August.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said in November that his country will conduct its own investigation and will cooperate with sporting federations looking into the allegations, state news agency Sputnik News reported.

Hansen told Athletics Weekly he is confident Russia will make changes but doesn’t think there is enough time to do so by the Olympics.

Russia is a member of European Athletics.

The full interview with Hansen is in the January 7 issue, Athletics Weekly said.