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IAAF Upholds Doping Ban On Russia, Excluding Track-And-Field Team From Olympics

The ban on Russian athletes could mean that the country won't be participating in track and field at the upcoming Rio Olympics.
The ban on Russian athletes could mean that the country won't be participating in track and field at the upcoming Rio Olympics.

Russia has condemned as unfair a decision by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) to uphold a ban preventing Russia's track-and-field team from competing in international competitions, including the Summer Olympics in August.

The IAAF imposed the suspension in November after a report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) revealed widespread, state-sponsored doping.

"Although good progress has been made, the IAAF Council was unanimous that RusAF" -- the Russian Athletics Federation -- "had not met the reinstatement conditions,” IAAF President Sebastian Coe said on June 17. He said that politics played no part in the decision.

“The Russian athletes could not credibly return to international competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors and the public," Coe added.

Coe said that Russian track-and-field competitors "could potentially return to international competition as neutrals once their cases are reviewed by our doping review board."

But he added that the final decision on Russian eligibility for the Rio games lies with the IAAF, not the International Olympic Committee. (IOC)

The IOC said it had "taken note" of the IAAF decision, and that its executive board will meet by teleconference on June 18 to "discuss the next appropriate steps."

Describing the IAAF’s decision in Vienna as "unfair," President Vladimir Putin said Russia did not accept "collective punishment" for all athletes.

"I'm assuming that we'll have a discussion with our colleagues in the world anti-doping agency and I hope a reaction from the International Olympic Committee," Putin told journalists.

"I hope we will find some solution here, but it does not mean that we will get offended and stop battling doping," he added. "On the contrary, we will intensify our fight on doping."

The Russian Sports Ministry said the IAAF’s decision "has created an unprecedented situation: Russian athletes cannot compete in the...2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro."

"The dreams of many of our athletes have been destroyed due to the incorrect behavior of certain athletes, coaches, and experts," it added.

But Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko was later quoted by the R-Sport news agency as saying he hoped the IOC could "correct" the ban, according to Reuters. "We are upset.... Innocent people have been punished because of the guilty. We hope that the IOC can somehow correct this."

"The IAAF suspension was an expected decision," Mutko was also quoted by TASS as saying, adding that Russian "will respond."

Meanwhile, Russian pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva said she would challenge the IAAF's decision in court, claiming it was "a human rights violation."

"We are blamed for something we have not done. I will not remain silent, I will take measures," said Isinbayeva, who won Olympic gold in 2004 and 2008.

More Russian athletes have been caught doping in the past year than from any other country in the world.

In the run-up to the IAAF meeting on June 17, Russia had embarked on an all-out push to ensure its athletes could compete in Rio de Janeiro.

Addressing the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum earlier on June 17, President Vladimir Putin said, "There isn't and cannot be any support on the government level of violations in sport, especially on the question of doping."

He also said there should be no collective punishment for all Russian athletes over doping offenses in the country.

A task force has been studying how much reform Russia has made, but Moscow's hopes of winning over doubters were likely dashed on June 15 when WADA released another report saying Russian athletes had continued to fail drug tests in large numbers and obstruct officials seeking to test them.

INFOGRAPHIC: 10 Russian Tricks To Stymie International Anti-Doping Teams

The report, titled Play True, said more than 700 tests had been "declined or canceled" since November.

In its bid to overturn the ban, Russia has announced reforms, including changing top officials and introducing compulsory anti-doping classes in schools to reform attitudes toward the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

Grigory Rodchenkov, who served as the head of Russia's drug-testing lab until the WADA report forced his resignation in December and who has since moved to the United States, has provided a detailed account of how Russian athletes used drugs and how officials were able to fraudulently keep their athletes from failing doping tests, including at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.

Two former directors of Russia's Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA), Nikita Kamayev and Vyacheslav Sinev, died less than two weeks apart in February. RUSADA said the 52-year-old Kamayev died of a heart attack after skiing, and did not elaborate on the cause of death for Sinev, 58.

Kamayev had reportedly contacted a British newspaper shortly before his death offering to expose the country's development of performance-enhancing drugs.

The WADA investigator who was appointed to verify Rodchenkov's allegations said on June 17 that he had evidence that the Russian state helped cover up doping cases around the 2013 world track championships in Moscow.

Richard McLaren said Russia's Sports Ministry told the WADA-accredited laboratory in Moscow "to not report positive sample results over the period before, during and after" the 2013 worlds.

Mutko has repeatedly denied allegations that the state supported any illegal doping.

McLaren, a Canadian law professor, said he shared "credible and verifiable" evidence from his ongoing investigation with an IAAF task force. He said he intended to release his "findings" in mid-July.

With reporting by Reuters, TASS, AP, and AFP

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