Russia faces May deadline for Olympic return

A Rio Olympic athletics programme without Russia looked an ever-stronger possibility on Friday after the sport's governing body said the track and field superpower had "significant work to do" to have its ban for doping lifted in time.

But the comments from the International Association of Athletics Federations incensed the Russian sports minister, who insisted that the country had done enough to meet the association's anti-doping standards.

Missing the Olympics would be a humiliating blow for Russia, where sporting success is seen as integral to national pride. The country came second to the United States in the track and field medal table at the London Olympics in 2012.

Norwegian Rune Andersen, heading a five-person international task force reviewing Russia's reforms after its suspension from global competition in November, said its athletics had made "significant progress", including changing its president and council and developing anti-doping educational programmes.

"However, the view of the task force is that there is significant work still to be done to satisfy the reinstatement conditions," he told a news conference after a Monaco meeting of the Council of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).

"We still need to interview athletes and coaches named in the WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency) commission report to understand the scope and nature of previous doping activities."

IAAF president Sebastian Coe, whose first year in office has involved a comprehensive shakeup of athletics to eradicate corruption and doping, suggested a final decision would be taken at a council meeting in May.

"You should conclude that these decisions will be taken at that point," Coe said.

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