PARIS: World Athletics on Wednesday acknowledged that Russia had made “steady progress” in meeting the requirements to return to international competition but not enough to lift the ban imposed in 2015 for systematic state doping. The global governing body’s council accepted the recommendation from the Task Force established to monitor Russia’s efforts to turn its back on its doping-tainted past. RUSAF, Russian athletics’ ruling body, was initially kicked out of World Athletics six years ago after a damning World Anti-Doping Agency report identified “a deeply-rooted culture of doping”. For the athletics superpower to return it had to meet a series of strict conditions including: establishing a culture of zero tolerance and an effective anti-doping structure. Rune Andersen, head of the Task Force, in his report accepted that “RUSAF has made steady progress towards meeting the conditions set for its reinstatement to membership of World Athletics”. He added: “The key milestones to date have been met, as well as the various key performance indicators set out in the Reinstatement Plan.” Anderson noted the new RUSAF leadership had shown “a genuine commitment” to lead this change away from doping “and ensure it becomes deep-rooted in Russian athletics”. But he warned: “There are still people in Russian athletics who have not embraced this new culture, and there is still much work for RUSAF to do to ensure that they do not exercise influence”. Another factor in upholding the ban was the status of Russia’s anti-doping agency. RUSADA was declared by WADA to be non-compliant in 2019 after doctoring doping tests from its Moscow laboratory. An initial four-year ban was reduced to two years by the Court of Arbitration for Sport last December. While Russia is banned, athletes from the country have been able to compete under a neutral banner once they have proved they were drug free, as a handful did at the Tokyo Olympics this year.