The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) has upheld the ban imposed by it on Russia’s track and field team over allegations of widespread and state-sponsored doping. This means Russia, one of the powerhouses of track and field, will be excluded from this summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

IAAF head Sebastian Coe said at a press conference in Vienna the IAAF council was unanimous that RUSAF (Russian Athletic Federation) had not met the reinstatement conditions although good progress has been made. Coe added the Russian athletes could not credibly return to international competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors and the public and therefore the Russian Athletic Federation has not been reinstated to membership of the IAAF at this stage.

The IAAF however said Russian athletes who have not been found guilty of doping could appear in the Olympics but not under the Russian flag. International anti-doping expert Rune Andersen said at the IAAF press conference said if there are individual athletes who can clearly and convincingly show they are not tainted by the Russian system because they have been outside the country or subject to other strong, anti-doping systems, including effective drug testing, then there should be a process through which they can apply to compete in international competition, not for Russia, but as a neutral athlete. Andersen went on to remark that the Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) was at least 18-24 months away from returning to full operational compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code.

Expressing its disappointment, the Sports Ministry of Russia urged the International Olympic Committee to assess the consequences of banning the national team of Russia from the 2016 Olympic Games. In a statement, the ministry said it is calling upon all members of the International Olympic Committee to once again assess the consequences the precedent (ban of the national team from the Olympic Games) will have both for Russian athletes and all of Russian people as well as for other members of the Olympic movement.

RUSAF president Dmitry Shlyakhtin remarked the athletes with clean records who have never used banned drugs will be making their own decisions now and added they still have chances to go to the Olympics if they take their cases to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko wrote in his letter to Coe that clean athletes who have dedicated years of their lives to training and who never sought to gain unfair advantage through doping should not be punished for the past actions of other individuals. Mutko added Russia’s athletes must not be singled out as the only ones to be punished for a problem that is widely acknowledged to go far beyond our country’s borders.

In another development, IAAF President Coe has been accused of misleading the British Parliament that he was not aware of doping problems in Russia. In his defense, he did receive an email about detailed doping but simply forwarded it to the IAAF ethics commission.

A statement issued by Coe’s spokeswoman said the IAAF Ethics Commission was deliberately established as a quasi-judicial body to investigate all allegations of corruption and breaches of the IAAF Rules and it is independent of the IAAF.

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