Ban on Russian athletes upheld ahead of Rio Olympics

EXCESSIVE: Russia says it is being unfairly victimised.

The International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) has upheld its decision to ban Russian athletes from this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro over an alleged state-sponsored doping scandal.

Russia has been suspended from all IAAF track and field events since November 2015, following the publication of a 325-page independent report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (Wada).

The unanimous vote by the IAAF council was announced following a meeting in Vienna on Friday June 17, and means that Russia will be absent from athletics events at the games for the first time since they boycotted the 1984 jamboree in Los Angeles.

A second get-together in Lausanne on Tuesday June 21 will see leaders from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), international sporting federations, and national Olympic and anti-doping organisations consider “whether and if individual athletes should be given individual justice.”

A new Wada report published on Wednesday June 15 contained fresh allegations that Russian athletes have continued to fail drugs tests, and declared that anti-doping officers were frustrated by a lack of compliance during their investigations, with 736 tests required from Russian athletes since the start of 2016 declined or cancelled.

The IAAF, headed by Lord Coe, has come under pressure to maintain the Olympics ban, while he faces his own inquest over revelations suggesting that he may have misled MPs regarding his knowledge of the scandal.

Athletes who have not tested positive for any banned substances may now appeal to the court of arbitration for sport, while the Russian sports ministry said it was “extremely disappointed” over the decision, adding: “We now appeal to the members of the International Olympic Committee to not only consider the impact that our athletes’ exclusion will have on their dreams and the people of Russia, but also that the Olympics themselves will be diminished by their absence.”

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