Friday, June 10, 2016

How IAAF Will Decide if Russia Goes to Rio

One week from today the 27 people pictured above, the members of the IAAF Council, will meet in Vienna to decide if Russian track and field athletes will be allowed to participate in the Rio Olympics later this summer. This post describes the decision making process under the IAAF Constitution.  

The IAAF Constitution has authority under Article 14.7 to suspend a member or its athletes, specifically:
(a) to suspend a Member from Membership until the next meeting of Congress or for any shorter period;
(g) to exclude a Member’s athletes from any one or more of the types of International Competitions defined in the Rules;
and perhaps most importantly:
(i) to impose any other sanction it may deem to be appropriate.
The Council decisions are made by a "simple majority" which is defined as the most votes, not necessarily an overall majority (which would be 14 if everyone is present and no one abstains).

The Council has very wide latitude for levying a suspension, which is justified based on criteria described under Article 14.8:
(b) in the opinion of the Council, the Member is in breach of the Constitution or any one or more of the Rules (other than the Code of Ethics); or
(c) the conduct of the Member, or the Government of the Country or Territory that the Member represents, breaches, or remains in breach of, the Objects of the IAAF; or
(d) the Council considers that the Member does not fulfil the requirements of eligibility for Membership;
The vote will be preceded by a report from a five-member Taskforce investigating Russia's response to the various claims and recommendations of the recent Pound Reports. Four of the teams members are from the IAAF Council.  They are

Geoff Gardener (Norfolk Islands)
Frank Fredericks (Namibia)
Abby Hoffman (Canada)
Anna Riccardi (Italy)

The Committee is chaired by Rune Andersen (Anti-doping Norway) - the so-called "independent chairperson."

The Terms of Reference for the Taskforce can be found here. These include the criteria for the reinstatement of Russia's track and field federation and its laboratory. It is not clear if these criteria are also the same ones that the Council will apply in its decision, given more recent revelations by the New York Times and ARD.

It is hard to overstate how unique this situation is - the formal guidelines above give a sense of how the process is supposed to work on paper, but given that no nation has ever been suspended from the Olympics for state-sponsored anti-doping, how things work in practice might be quite different.

1 comment:

  1. There can be no defensible decision other than to ban Russia from Rio. Any hope of IAAF Council credibility will be shattered if they do otherwise.