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High jumper slams slow pace of Russia’s doping reform

MOSCOW — The only Russian track athlete currently holding a world title called on the country’s officials and coaches in the sport to be replaced because of the slow pace of anti-doping reforms.

High jumper Mariya Lasitskene’s message — in a country where top athletes rarely speak out against officials — came shortly after Russia’s ban from international track and field was prolonged on Sunday.

“I hope that the people involved in this never-ending disgrace still have the courage to leave. By themselves. And don’t think I’m only talking about the management,” Lasitskene wrote on Instagram.

“It’s also about the current coaches who are still sure that you can’t win without doping. They’re long overdue for retirement. A new generation of our athletes must grow up with a different philosophy, and for any athlete, it’s the coach who provides that.”

Lasitskene won world titles in 2015 and 2017, but was barred from the 2016 Olympics because of sanctions against the Russian team. She competes internationally under a neutral flag.

Sunday’s IAAF decision left Russia with little over three months to avoid competing under a neutral flag at the world championships in Qatar. After Russia was barred from international track in 2015 because of widespread doping, the country’s competitors participated at the 2017 world championships as neutral athletes.

The head of the IAAF’s Russia task force, Rune Andersen, said there was evidence the country was “backsliding” on anti-doping reforms. He cited evidence that banned coaches have continued to work with athletes, and an ongoing investigation into whether Russian officials provided fake medical documentation to give high jumper Danil Lysenko an alibi for failing to notify drug testers of his whereabouts.

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