Marathon organisers have demanded an urgent meeting with officials after the reinstatement of Russian drug cheat Lilya Shobukhova despite the fact she has not repaid around $3 million in prize money earned when she was doping.
Sources within the World Marathon Majors, the series of the five richest big-city events, said the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) may be acting in breach of its own rules by reinstating an athlete before he or she has returned money won from their events.
Shobukhova's best marathon time of two hours 18 minutes 20 seconds made her the second fastest woman ever but checks on her biological passport found abnormalities.
She was banned for three years and two months and all her race results after October 2009 were annulled.
The IAAF's Rule 40 (12) states that as a condition to regaining eligibility an athlete "must repay any and all prize money that he has received in relation to performances in competitions" from the date of the first adverse doping finding.
WADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, and the IAAF announced on Monday that Shobukhova's ban has been reduced by seven months after she provided "substantial assistance", adding that she would be able to compete again immediately.
"She accepted from the outset that she had committed an anti-doping rule violation," WADA said.
"The information and documentation provided by Ms Shobukhova has been of substantial value in uncovering and investigating anti-doping rule violations committed by other individuals, including athlete support personnel."
The 37-year-old Shobukhova will not be running in this year's New York, Berlin or Chicago marathons, however, as she has a life ban from the World Marathon Majors, the series of leading big-city races which also include events in Tokyo and Boston.
Another race in the marathon series, London, has started legal proceedings to recover more than $1 million in appearance fees and prize money from Shobukhova, who won the event in 2010 and finished in the top three in 2009 and 2011.
The Russian also won Chicago three times, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and was twice winner of the Marathon Majors series jackpot, worth $500,000 on each occasion.
None of that money has been repaid to the event organisers.
Nick Bitel, chief executive of the London Marathon who is in China for the Beijing world championships, said on Tuesday that he will be meeting IAAF officials this week to discuss the issue.
"Cheats should not be permitted to keep their ill-gotten gains under any circumstances," Bitel told Reuters. "To us, Rule 40 is a good rule.
"We are determined to make marathon running a safe haven from doping. Shobukhova is still banned for life from taking part in the London Marathon and in any of the five other marathons that make up the World Marathon Majors," Bitel said.
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