World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has said Russia's doping ban will be addressed before the invasion of Ukraine is considered ©Getty Images

World Athletics President Sebastian Coe has revealed that the organisation will deal with Russia's doping ban before addressing the invasion of Ukraine.

Russia was banned by the international track and field body in November 2015 following a string of historic state-sponsored doping offences were uncovered.

The ban has repeatedly been kept in place and only Russians approved by World Athletics have been allowed to compete - strictly under the authorised neutral athlete (ANA) banner with no national flag, anthem or colours allowed.

Following the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, World Athletics suspended the ANA athletes, as well amid Russia being frozen out by most of international sport.

But the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has now announced it is exploring options for athletes from Russia and Belarus to return to the global stage as neutrals, even though there is no sign of the invasion ending.

Olympic sports may be expected to follow the IOC's stance but Coe warned that athletics would not deal with the issue while the doping ban was still in place.

A World Athletics Task Force chaired by Norway's Rune Andersen has been exploring the possibility of Russian reinstatement and previously said it could make a "final recommendation" to the ruling Council, who are due to meet in Monte Carlo between March 21 and 23. 

Russian athletes have been allowed to compete under the ANA banner but this was suspended following the invasion of Ukraine ©Getty Images
Russian athletes have been allowed to compete under the ANA banner but this was suspended following the invasion of Ukraine ©Getty Images

"The Council will discuss the roadmap for reinstatement but specifically around the egregious attack on the integrity of our sport through doping," Coe, who is Australia for tomorrow's World Cross Country Championships in Bathurst, according to Agence France-Presse.

"Only when that decision [is made] one way or the other - we will await a recommendation from the task force and I don't want to pre-judge anything they will recommend to the Council.

"But only on the basis of that conversation, or that discussion, would we move on to the second discussion [Ukraine]." 

A total of 73 Russian athletes currently have ANA status.

A further six were approved earlier this month, despite them not being allowed to compete due to the Ukraine sanctions.

Coe, a double Olympic 1500 metres gold medallist, has adopted a harsher response to Russia than the IOC has.

In December, he said that Russians should only be allowed to return following the invasion when it is "palatable and fair".