IAAF Taskforce head Rune Andersen has hailed plans to set up an Athletics Integrity Unit ©Getty Images

Rune Andersen, head of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) Taskforce overseeing the current Russian suspension from competition, has described the creation of the Athletics Integrity Unit as "ground-breaking".

Tomorrow, delegates at the IAAF Special Congress will be asked to vote on a two-stage package of new measures with the Integrity Unit, which is at the core of the governance reform proposals, due to come into operation next year, two years before the other three main elements of the reforms.

"As the independent chairman of the Taskforce, this proposal seems to me to be ground-breaking," said Andersen, who reported to the IAAF Council here that Russia had yet to meet the  requirements for a return to competition and said there would be an update at the next Council meeting in February.

"It strikes me that the new Integrity Unit could play a very important role in future in speeding up the resolution of cases and imposition of sanctions, and in helping the IAAF monitor and guide the efforts of non-compliant national federations to bring themselves back into compliance with the anti-doping and other integrity requirements of IAAF members."

The new independent Athletics Integrity Unit is intended to simplify the present legal process concerning anti-doping rule violations by international level athletes.

It will also manage all doping and non-doping integrity matters, and in conjunction with the new independent Disciplinary Tribunal, which will hear and decide all breaches, and impose sanctions, will take the responsibility away from the national level.

To ensure its independence, the unit will have its own board and staff and be housed and operate separately from the IAAF but will report annually to Congress.

The number of IAAF anti-doping tests carried out annually is continuing to rise and, if the reforms are passed tomorrow, will grow further in 2017 under the control of the Integrity Unit.

In 2015 the IAAF carried out 4,700 tests and the annual figure is forecasted to rise to more than 6,000 for the present year.

Rune Andersen (right) sitting alongside IAAF President Sebastian Coe, has hailed the intended creation of an Athletics Integrity Unit ©Getty Images
Rune Andersen (right) sitting alongside IAAF President Sebastian Coe, has hailed the intended creation of an Athletics Integrity Unit ©Getty Images

"The future is not just about increasing the number of tests, it’s about finding new ways to uncover doping which is what we at the IAAF are focused on," commented IAAF President Sebastian Coe.

"Access to intelligence is key. 

"Reporting of information to the IAAF already plays a crucial role in the IAAF’s anti-doping programme."

In his opening remarks to Council, Coe said: "Now is not the time to take our foot off the pedal.

"We have a momentous opportunity on Saturday to restore credibility and pioneer a new era of transparent and accountable sports administration.

"We are guardians, not owners of this sport and as such we have an obligation to lay the right foundations for future generations who will sit in our places and compete in our events."

In 2016, 59 doping offences were reported which did not arise or result from the traditional positive doping controls but from intelligence-led sources.

This prompted the IAAF Report Doping initiative, launched on Monday (November 28) involving an online portal which encourages anyone in the sport to securely share information.

The IAAF monitored contacts by 14 people in the first 12 hours and 43 within the first two days.