Russia fails in bid to overturn ban
Russian track and field athletes prohibited from competing at Olympics
Olympic Games begin on August 5 in Rio de Janeiro
Russia has reacted with anger after its bid to have a ban on its track and field athletes lifted to allow them to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games ended in failure.
The Court for the Arbitration of Sport rejected the appeal made by the Russian Olympic Committee and 67 athletes Thursday, a decision that has led to the country’s sports minister calling for the disbanding of the world’s athletics governing body.
Russia was suspended from track and field events by the International Association of Athletics Federations – known as the IAAF – back in November 2015.
“It’s time to disband the IAAF,” said Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko on Twitter, who also tweeted ‘“Corrupt judges! How can you deprive clean sportsmen of their dream, and what’s more WADA didn’t present either facts or evidence.”
Yelena Isinbayeva – a two-time Olympic pole vault champion, has called on the IOC to have the final say after labeling the verdict as “purely political.”
“Thank you everyone for the funeral of athletics,” she said.
The IAAF suspension last year came after an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report which uncovered a culture of state-sponsored doping.
“Today’s judgment has created a level playing field for athletes,” said the IAAF in a statement Thursday.
“The CAS award upholds the rights of the IAAF to use its rules for the protection of the sport, to protect clean athletes and support the credibility and integrity of competition.”
Sebastian Coe, president of the IAAF, added: “While we are thankful that our rules and our power to uphold our rules and the anti doping code have been supported, this is not a day for triumphant statements.
“I didn’t come into this sport to stop athletes from competing. It is our federation’s instinctive desire to include, not exclude.
“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.”
Athletics in crisis
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and the organization’s executive board will now meet Sunday to discuss the CAS ruling and decide what sanctions to impose on the remainder of the Russian Olympic association and the country’s athletes.
The Kremlin reacted to the verdict with President Vladimir Putin’s press secretary criticizing the decision to issue a blanket ban on all track and field athletes.
“We believe that the principle of collective responsibility is hardly acceptable,” Dmitry Peskov was quoted as saying by Russia’s Tass news agency.
“We are speaking here about field and track athletes, who had been preparing hard for the Olympics, who have nothing to do with doping, who have nothing to do with none of accusations and suspicions, who had regularly been tested by foreign anti-doping agencies.”
“We can only express our deep regret,” he said before adding “our relevant agencies will analyze the situation quickly and efficiently.”
Dmitry Shlyakhtin, the president of the All-Russia Atheltics Federation (ARAF), believes the ruling has ended any hopes of a successful outcome.
“I think there are no chances,” Shlyakhtin told TASS.
Pole vault star Isinbayeva told TASS: “IOC is entitled to make their own decision. They said it again – looks like rejection, but IOC can decide something on separate athletes. I should say it once again – the final decision will be announced by IOC President Thomas Bach.
“Thank you everyone for the funeral of track and field athletics. This is a purely political order. All arguments are aimed against ARAF and there is nothing concrete against athletes.
“This is not sports but politics,” she added. “But we are athletes without any political skills. Let them rejoice.”
She later added: “There was hope but it was dashed. Let all those pseudo clean foreign athletes breathe a sigh of relief and win their pseudo gold medals in our absence. They always did fear strength.”
With Russia’s track and field stars having lost their appeal, attention now turns to the entire Olympic team and the IOC’s meeting at the weekend.
The IOC said it would be “exploring legal options” after an independent WADA-commissioned report by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren had found urine samples of Russian athletes had been manipulated across the “vast majority” of Summer and Winter Olympic sports from 2011 through to August 2015.
Russia finished top of the medal table at the Sochi Games two years ago – wining 33 medals, 13 of them gold.
But McLaren concluded that Russia’s “Ministry of Sport directed, controlled and oversaw the manipulation of athlete’s analytical results or sample swapping, with the active participation and assistance of the FSB, CSP and both Moscow and Sochi Laboratories.”
The FSB is Russia’s federal security service while the CSP is involved in the training of Russian athletes.