Russian athletes could compete internationally by the end of the year after progress in tackling drug cheating, Sebastian Coe has said.
Athletics chiefs have said they are "encouraged" by President Vladimir Putin's admission anti-doping systems had failed and needed to be overhauled.
Coe said the Russian Athletics Federation had "grasped the enormity" of the challenge and was making advances.
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) president said there was a "real possibility" of Russian athletes being allowed back on the track this year.
"There's no doubt at all that the new federation is populated by people who I do genuinely think have grasped the enormity of this challenge," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
"That's a good statement to make and it's important we maintain that progress."
President Putin denied widespread doping had been state sponsored but his admission about the reforms needed was viewed as a step forward.
"We should acknowledge the progress that is being made," Coe added.
"The task force is very clear that there are still some challenges that lie ahead and that we shouldn't jump too many bridges but there's no doubt this is a federation that I think really has grasped the scale of the problem.
"We need to make sure that we continue to do everything we can to get clean Russian athletes back into the international fold.
"That was always the task once the federation had been suspended."