Russian athletes who refuse to return Olympic medals following doping cases won’t be selected for the national track and field team. Several Russian athletes have refused to return medals after being disqualified from the 2008 or 2012 Olympics as part of an International Olympic Committee retesting programme. Russian media reported on Monday that only one medal had been returned so far, out of more than 20 total cases.
The Russian track federation said on Thursday athletes who don’t return medals don’t have the right to compete in its sports events and won’t be eligible for national teams or for drug-testing pools which could allow them to compete internationally as neutral athletes. The federation itself has been suspended from international competition since November 2015 over widespread drug use. It said the new insistence on returning medals was part of the process of persuading the IAAF that Russia deserves to be reinstated. The federation said it “is issuing a reminder that during work on reinstatement with the IAAF there are some criteria which have so far been ignored by a number of people.” Giving back prize money won by dopers at non-Olympic events is another priority, the federation said.
The decision not to select athletes who don’t return Olympic medals is unlikely to have an immediate effect in most cases, since athletes disqualified for Olympic doping are likely to face two-year bans from any sporting involvement anyway.
However, it could affect runners from relay teams who tested clean but were disqualified because of a teammate’s failed test.