IAAF ex­tends Rus­sia’s dop­ing ban to cover Rio Olympics

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THE In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Ath­let­ics Fed­er­a­tions (IAAF) has up­held its ban on Rus­sia tak­ing part in ma­jor events – but in­di­vid­ual Rus­sian ath­letes could still be al­lowed to com­pete at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro later this year.

Rus­sia has been sus­pended from in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion since Novem­ber be­cause of ac­cu­sa­tions that sys­tem­atic dop­ing was car­ried out with the con­nivance of the state. The Rus­sian fed­er­a­tion re­sponded at the time by claim­ing to be fully com­mit­ted to re­form, but ear­lier this week the World Anti-Dop­ing Agency said its of­fi­cials were still be­ing ham­pered in their at­tempts to carry out tests on Rus­sian ath­letes. The IAAF agreed unan­i­mously to up­hold the ban at a meet­ing in Vi­enna, but will meet again next Tues­day in Lau­sanne to dis­cuss the pos­si­bil­ity of al­low­ing a lim­ited num­ber of Rus­sian ath­letes to com­pete in Rio.

The Rus­sian min­istry of sport in­sisted that they had done all they could to “re­gain the trust of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity”.

“We are ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed by the IAAF’s de­ci­sion to up­hold the ban, cre­at­ing the un­prece­dented sit­u­a­tion of a whole na­tion’s track and field ath­letes be­ing banned from the Olympics,” the min­istry said in a state­ment.

“Clean ath­letes’ dreams are be­ing de­stroyed be­cause of the rep­re­hen­si­ble be­hav­iour of other ath­letes and of­fi­cials.

“We have done ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble since the ban was first im­posed to re­gain the trust of the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity. We now ap­peal to the mem­bers of the IOC to not only con­sider the im­pact that our ath­letes’ ex­clu­sion will have on their dreams, but also that the Olympics them­selves will be di­min­ished by their ab­sence.”

The Scot­tish 800m run­ner Lynsey Sharp, whose 2012 Euro­pean sil­ver medal was up­graded to gold a year later af­ter Rus­sia’s Ye­lena Arzhakova was banned for dop­ing, had no sym­pa­thy with that point of view.

“And your coun­try has de­stroyed ‘clean ath­letes’ dreams for decades,” Sharp re­torted on Twit­ter. “Not a nice feel­ing, is it?”

EURO­PEAN 400 me­tres hur­dles cham­pion, Eilidh Doyle, ad­mits she is pleased the IAAF have de­cided not to lift the sus­pen­sion im­posed on Rus­sia but she is also clear that ex­clud­ing the Rus­sian track and field team from the Rio Olympics is only the first step in restor­ing trust in her sport.

Rus­sia was banned from in­ter­na­tional com­pe­ti­tion in Novem­ber af­ter it was found to be en­gag­ing in state-spon­sored dop­ing and the world gov­ern­ing body yes­ter­day ruled that the Rus­sian fed­er­a­tion had not met the cri­te­ria re­quired for read­mis­sion.

It is a re­sult that Doyle is hugely re­lieved about, par­tic­u­larly in light of a World Anti-Dop­ing Agency (WADA) re­port re­leased ear­lier this week which re­vealed that anti-dop­ing of­fi­cials in Rus­sia have been stopped from test­ing ath­letes and also threat­ened by se­cu­rity ser­vices.

“This ban is good – it’s a step in the right di­rec­tion,” she says. “It’s not solv­ing the whole prob­lem but it’s progress.

“We need to keep on mak­ing th­ese baby steps and hope­fully we’ll get to the big­ger pic­ture even­tu­ally where things will be sorted. There is no rea­son Rus­sia should have been al­lowed back be­cause they’ve not shown any real change. They seem to have done very lit­tle to com­ply with the cri­te­ria.”

The IAAF may have made this bold, and un­prece­dented, step of im­pos­ing a blan­ket ban but it has not com­pletely re­stored Doyle’s trust in the gov­ern­ing body.

“I think they are tak­ing some steps but I still don’t think they’re do­ing enough,” she says of the IAAF. “The wor­ry­ing thing is that all the rev­e­la­tions seem to be com­ing from the press, so how much of this in­for­ma­tion would have come out if it hadn’t been for th­ese jour­nal­ists?

“For me, the thing that’s been most dis­heart­en­ing through­out this whole thing is that the IAAF don’t seem to be on the side of the clean ath­letes. It’s all about what they can get for them­selves – there’s so much cor­rup­tion, and it’s com­ing from the very top. That’s the prob­lem, th­ese are guys that we’re sup­posed to trust yet it’s very hard to.”

The Rus­sian Min­istry of Sport re­leased a state­ment say­ing they are “ex­tremely dis­ap­pointed by the IAAF’s de­ci­sion” and that “clean ath­letes” dreams are be­ing de­stroyed by the rep­re­hen­si­ble be­hav­iour of other ath­letes and of­fi­cials”.

The door is not com­pletely shut for Rus­sian ath­letes though; the IOC will de­cide on Tues­day “whether and if in­di­vid­ual ath­letes should be given in­di­vid­ual jus­tice”, mean­ing in­di­vid­ual Rus­sian ath­letes could still com­pete in Rio de­spite the fed­er­a­tion’s ban.

Doyle pre­dicts that with the threat of le­gal ac­tion hang­ing over them, the IOC will al­low in­di­vid­ual Rus­sian ath­letes to com­pete if, as they have stip­u­lated, they can prove they are clean. “I think there will still be some Rus­sians on the start line in Rio,” she replied some­what de­spon­dently.

“The hu­man rights thing is a big is­sue and so I think that will play a part. In­di­vid­ual ath­letes might not have failed a drug test but that doesn’t mean any­thing – we’ve seen that in the past. It doesn’t mat­ter if you’ve never failed a test, you could well still be cheat­ing. And if there are in­di­vid­ual Rus­sian ath­letes in Rio, es­pe­cially if they’re run­ning well, the pub­lic will look at that and think that noth­ing has changed.

“I think it will be detri­men­tal to the sport if there are Rus­sian ath­letes there. It might be harsh on the clean ath­letes but it’s the fault of their Fed­er­a­tion and un­for­tu­nately, the ath­letes have to pay the price for that.”

LAYING DOWN THE LAW: IAAF pres­i­dent Seb Coe (left) and Rune An­der­sen

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