IAAF upholds Rio Olympics ban on Russia over doping

World athletics governing body says Russia has not done enough to earn re-instatement for its track and field athletes.

The world athletics governing body IAAF has upheld its ban on Russia’s track and field team for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in August over systematic doping.

Russia was suspended from track and field by the IAAF in November after an independent report from the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) revealed widespread state-sponsored doping.

Russia sponsored Olympic doping, whistleblower says

IAAF ruled on Friday that the country had not done enough to earn re-instatement, despite Russian officials’ claims that Russia had cleaned up its anti-doping system and met all the requirements for re-admission.

“In a system that’s so badly failed the athletes in Russia, that it is extremely difficult to define or have any presumption that athletes are in a safe and secure enough system for us to conclude that they are eligible for international competition,” Sebastian Coe, the president of IAAF, said at a news conference in Vienna.

Following the decision, Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the ban as unfair, saying the IAAF meted out “collective” punishment that had hurt clean athletes.

Speaking to foreign media at a late evening round-table on Friday, Putin said he would seek the intervention of WADA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) over the decision by the IAAF.

‘Tough stance’

On Wednesday, a new WADA report revealed 52 failed tests since the November suspension, and stories of extraordinary attempts to avoid, obstruct or intimidate drug testers.

Al Jazeera’s Lee Wellings, reporting from the Austrian capital, said that IAAF was “not only tough, but it was also seen tough – that is crucial for their reputation”.

“They have had so many problems, not least corruption allegations involving their former president,” he added.

“But they have stopped short of using the phrase ‘state-sponsored doping’ that was used in the report of WADA.”

A new WADA report cited continuing obstruction and violations of drug-testing in Russia [File: Anja Niedringhaus/AP]
A new WADA report cited continuing obstruction and violations of drug-testing in Russia [File: Anja Niedringhaus/AP]

Russia’s sports ministry said it was “extremely disappointed” by IAAF’s decision and appealed to the IOC to “consider the impact that our athletes’ exclusion will have on the dreams and the people of Russia”.

“Clean athletes’ dreams are being destroyed because of the reprehensible behaviour of other athletes and officials. They have sacrificed years of their lives striving to compete at the Olympics and now that sacrifice looks likely to be wasted,” the ministry said in a statement.

Pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva, a three-time Olympic medallist, described the IAAF decision as “a human rights violation”.

“I will not remain silent, I will take measures,” she told TASS news agency. “I will appeal to the human rights court,” she said, without specifying in which court she planned to challenge the ruling.

IOC is due to hold a summit of sports leaders next Tuesday that could potentially open the door for individual athletes who have never been accused of doping and are deemed to be clean to compete at the games.

“We will look at the next step for us,” IOC vice president John Coates said earlier in Australia. “It’s the IOC who have been testing and re-testing samples. The debate next Tuesday will be on the issue of individual justice and rights.”

The decision to uphold the ban came in a meeting of the IAAF’s ruling council. The world athletics governing body acted on a recommendation by a special task force that has monitored Russia’s reform efforts.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies