World Athletics bans Russian and Belarusian athletes amid Ukraine invasion

World Athletics have decided to ban Russian and Belarus athletes, support personnel and officials from all sanctioned events for the foreseeable future.

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The World Athletics Council has agreed to ban Russian and Belarusian athletes following the countries’ decision to invade Ukraine.

All athletes, support personnel and officials from Russia and Belarus will be excluded from all World Athletics events with immediate effect for the foreseeable future as part of sanctions against the nations. The body also agreed to consider further measures, such as the suspension of the Belarus Federation, at its scheduled Council meeting next week.

This means Russian and Belarusian athletes will be barred from competing at the World Athletics Championships Oregon22, the World Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade and the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships, which begin on Friday in Muscat, Oman.

The World Athletics sanctions are intended to unsettle Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is a keen fan of sports


Mikhail Metzel/TASS)

The Russian Athletics Federation (RusAF) has already been suspended from World Athletics since 2015 due to doping violations and therefore is not eligible to host World Athletics events or send teams to international championships. Despite the Authorised Neutral Athlete (ANA) process existing to allow athletes to compete, Russians with ANA status for 2022 are excluded for the foreseeable future.

Russian ANA or Belarusian athletes currently set to compete in the World Athletics Race Walking Team Championships and the World Athletics Indoor Championships Belgrade 22 will have their accreditation withdrawn and entries denied. The same goes for any support personnel and officials.

While speaking to the Council, World Athletics President Sebastian Coe condemned the Russian invasion and insisted the sanctions are the route to a peaceful solution.

“The world is horrified by what Russia has done, aided and abetted by Belarus,” Coe declared. “World leaders sought to avoid this invasion through diplomatic means but to no avail given Russia’s unswerving intention to invade Ukraine.

Sebastian Coe criticised the Russian invasion of Ukraine at the World Athletics Council meeting


AFP/Getty Images)

“The unprecedented sanctions that are being imposed on Russia and Belarus by countries and industries all over the world appear to be the only peaceful way to disrupt and disable Russia’s current intentions and restore peace.

“Anyone who knows me will understand that imposing sanctions on athletes because of the actions of their government goes against the grain. I have railed against the practice of politicians targeting athletes and sport to make political points when other sectors continue about their business. This is different as governments, business and other international organisations have imposed sanctions and measures against Russia across all sectors.”

He added: “Sport has to step up and join these efforts to end this war and restore peace. We cannot and should not sit this one out.”

World Athletics Athletes’ Commission chairs Renaud Lavillenie and Dame Valerie Adams welcomed the decision, with Lavillenie insisting: “We stand in solidarity with our fellow athletes, competitors, and friends from Ukraine who are facing far greater challenges than just disruptions to their training and competition, but are in fear of their lives and the lives of their loved ones.”

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