Olympic ban on Russian track and field athletes upheld

By bne IntelliNews July 21, 2016

A ban on Russia's track and field athletes competing in the Rio Olympics because of allegedly state-supported doping was upheld in court on July 21, although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) must still decide whether to bar the entire national team from the games.

The Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) and more than 60 athletes had attempted to overturn the ban, imposed late last year by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF). However, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) has ruled to uphold the suspension.

The IAAF welcomed the Swiss court's decision, adding that it "created a level playing field for athletes". But the organisation's president Lord Coe added after the ruling: "This is not a day for triumphant statements. I didn't come into this sport to stop athletes from competing."

"Beyond Rio the IAAF Taskforce will continue to work with Russia to establish a clean safe environment for its athletes so that its federation and team can return to international recognition and competition," Coe added.

Prominent Russian athletes condemned the move. 2012 Olympic gold medallist pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, who was among the group that appealed to Cas, condemned the ruling as a "blatant political order". "Thank you all for this funeral for athletics," Isinbayeva told TASS news agency.

The IOC will now meet on July 24 to decide whether to entirely exclude Russia from the Summer Games, which will open in Brazil on August 5, because of a new report exposing extensive and allegedly state-sponsored doping among Russian athletes across a broad range of sports and not just in track and field.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada) on July 18 accused Russia's sporting authorities and the FSB intelligence service of coordinated efforts to manage and conceal the use of banned drugs by athletes in 30 different sports and during previous Olympic Games.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the suspension of all Russian officials named in the Wada report pending an investigation into the charges.

Meanwhile, the ROC indefinitely postponed the departure of the national Olympic team's farewell ceremony for the 2016 Summer Games in Brazil

"The farewell ceremony was not cancelled, but postponed from July 22," Igor Kazikov, the head of the Russian Rio 2016 Olympic delegation, told TASS. "We will announce the new date later."

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