A performance-enhancing-drug-related ban on Russian track and field athletes’ participation in international competitions will not be lifted before this summer’s Rio Olympics, a correspondent for the U.K. Telegraph reports:
Holed up in a conference room at the Grand Hotel Wien in Vienna, Austria, the IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] Council have spent the entire day debating whether to readmit Russia into the international athletics fold. The formal announcement is due to arrive in about an hour but I understand that the decision has, in essence, already been made. According to sources, the ban will be upheld and Russian track and field athletes will be BANNED from the Olympics.
The Telegraph notes, however, that individual Russian competitors could be admitted by proving through the international Court of Arbitration for Sport that there is no evidence they have ever doped.
The country’s athletes were initially suspended from competition by the IAAF after a World Anti-Doping Agency report issued in November 2015 documented widespread, organized PED use and testing evasion. Another WADA report issued this week included further allegations.
Opening ceremonies in Rio will take place on Aug. 5.
Update, 11:52 p.m.: The Russian Ministry of Sport just issued this statement regarding today’s IAAF decision:
We are extremely disappointed by the IAAF’s decision to uphold the ban on all of our track and field athletes, creating the unprecedented situation of a whole nation’s track and field athletes being banned from the Olympics. 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.
We have done everything possible since the ban was first imposed to regain the trust of the international community. We have rebuilt our anti-doping institutions which are being led by respected international experts. Our athletes are being tested by the UK’s anti-doping agency, UKAD, and every one of them is undergoing a minimum of three tests in addition to the usual requirements. We have nothing to hide and feel we had met the IAAF’s conditions for re-entry.
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. The Games are supposed to be a source of unity, and we hope that they remain as a way of bringing people together.