Suspending ANA process severe blow to Russian athletes: RusAF

World Athletics’ decision to provisionally suspend the process of allowing Russian athletes to return to competitions would be a severe blow to athletes, Evgeny Yurchenko, head of the country’s athletics federation, has said.

“The decisions announced in yesterday’s statement by World Athletics deeply disappointed me. Failure to issue a neutral status is a severe blow to athletes,” Yurchenko said in a statement on Friday, reports Xinhua news agency.

World Athletics on Thursday decided to put on hold the process of granting Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) status for Russian athletes who want to compete internationally, following the failure of the Russian Athletic Federation (RusAF) to pay its fine for breaching anti-doping rules before the July 1 deadline.

Yurchenko said World Athletics had ignored the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and that the federation was not able to pay the five million dollars fine, as well as an extra fee of 1.31 million dollars to cover the relevant investigation and legal costs, amid the difficult economic situation.

The global governing body of the sport will freeze the ANA process until its council meets on July 29-30 to review and discuss the situation.