AGENCIES:A decision to ban Russian track and field athletes from Rio 2016 over the country’s alleged state-sponsored doping regime has been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Russia’s athletics federation was suspended by the sport’s world governing body, the IAAF, after an independent report found evidence of widespread doping.
The Russian Olympic Committee and 68 athletes appealed against that decision but after hearing evidence from both sides, Cas has ruled the ban can stand.
Separately, the International Olympic Committee is considering calls to ban all Russian competitors from the Olympic Games following a second report into state-sponsored doping.
“The Cas panel confirmed that the ROC is not entitled to nominate Russian track and field athletes to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games considering that they are not eligible to participate under the IAAF competition rules,” a spokesman said.
The IAAF said it was “pleased Cas has supported its position”, saying the judgement had “created a level playing field for athletes”.
IAAF president, Lord Coe, added: “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.”
The end of the road for Russia’s athletes?
Despite the ban, the IAAF had previously said a handful of the country’s athletes could compete in Rio as neutrals if they meet a number of criteria, including being repeatedly tested outside their homeland.
At least two Russian athletes – 800m runner Yuliya Stepanova and long jumper Darya Klishina – have already taken advantage of that decision and the Cas ruling has cleared the way for more to follow.
Cas said the ROC would still be able to nominate “Russian track and field athletes who fulfil the criteria” to compete as neutrals at the Games.
But a Cas spokesman added the panel had “expressed concerns” that the short timeframe “left no possibility for the athletes to comply with the criteria”.
The Games begin on 5 August.