All-Russia Athletic Federation President retires

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New All-Russia Athletic Federation (ARAF) President is Vadim Zelichyonok, the former organization’s Vice-President.

The ARAF President Valentin Balakhnichev announced his resignation.

“I didn’t manage to cope with doping problems in Russia. I’m retiring. I have the right to hand over my responsibilities to one of the Vice-Presidents. I hand them over to Vadim Zelichyonok. The Presidium may support my decision or may not,” said Balakhnichev.

Balakhnichev announced his resignation in the ARAF Presidium meeting on Tuesday (February 17). The reason for his decision is an array of recent doping scandals, connected with Russian athletes.

On January 20 RUSADA Anti-Doping Agency informed of disqualification of five Russian athletes for anti-doping rule violations. Among them are race walk sportsmen Olga Kaniskina, Sergey Kirdyapkin and Valeriy Borchin.

After that scandal Vitaliy Mutko, the Minister of Sports, reiterated the importance of structural and personnel changes in the Russian Olympic track and field team and ARAF. Three days later Valentin Maslakov resigned as the team head coach.

On January 30 they disqualified a bronze Olympic Games medalist (2008, 2012) in heptathlon Tatyana Chernova and women's 3000 m steeplechase Olympic champion Yuliya Zaripova.

Earlier in February Balakhnichev expressed his confidence that Zelichyonok would cope with his responsibilities: “According to the ARAF Charter I’ll be replaced by Vadim Zelichyonok, the first Vice-President. He’s the experienced specialist who has been the national team head coach from 1993 to 1999”.

Valentin Balakhnichev has been the ARAF President since 1991.

In December 2014 he resigned as the IAAF chief financial officer due to another doping scandal. European mass media accused Balakhnichev and the IAAF President Lamine Diack (the father of Massata Diack) of taking sums from sportsmen who used performance-enhancing drugs.

Text and pictures by INTERFAX.RU