The Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), sport’s highest tribunal, has rejected an appeal by Russia against a doping ban for its entire athletics team from the Rio Olympics.

In a statement, the CAS said it rejects the claims/appeal of the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 Russian athletes and backed right of the world governing body of athletics (IAAF) to suspend the Russian athletics federation.

The CAS decision also increases the possibility that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will now exclude Russia from all sports, not just track and field, in Rio de Janeiro. The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) remarked it was satisfied the Court of Arbitration for Sport has supported its position and added that the judgment had “created a level playing field for athletes”.

The IOC is presently reviewing calls to ban all Russian competitors from the Rio Games following a second report into state-sponsored doping. The report found evidence of Russian urine samples being “manipulated” across the “vast majority” of summer and winter Olympic sports from late 2011 to August 2015. The McLaren report confirmed doping allegations and tampering with samples during the Sochi Olympics. The report also revealed a larger system of covering up positive tests of doped Russian athletes that reached the highest levels of sport.

The system, termed the Disappearing Positive Methodology, revealed in the report included the Ministry of Sport, Center of Sports Preparation of the National Teams of Russia (CSP), Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Moscow and Sochi labs working in coordination from 2011 to 2015 to cover up 643 positive tests of athletes across 29 Olympic sports. The report also disclosed the system was led by Yury Nagognykh, the deputy sports minister and a member of the Russian Olympic Committee’s executive board, and included several top Russian sports officials.

The IOC committee said it is presently reviewing legal options for a ban of Russia entirely from the upcoming Olympics but wanted to consider the decision by the CAS.

Russian High jumper Maria Kuchina — a medal hopeful for the Games — said this was supposed to be her first Games and it is a serious blow to her — both as an athlete and as a person. Two-time Olympic pole vault gold medalist Yelena Isinbayeva remarked the ruling would deal a mortal blow to international athletics. The 34-year-old later wrote a post on Instagram that all Rio gold medals would be meaningless.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko said the CAS was absolutely violating the rights of clean athletes, creating a precedent of collective responsibility.

Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) honorary president Leonid Tyagachev remarked Vitaly Mutko and ROC head Alexander Zhukov are responsible for the exclusion of Russian athletes from the Rio Olympics. Tyagachev said Mutko needs to have a hard think and added it is impossible to continue to develop sport in this way.

Russia was suspended by the IAAF in November last year from track and field events after the publication of an independent World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) report that showed a culture of widespread, state-sponsored doping.

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