Olympics ban for Russian track and field athletes
Russia's track and field athletes will be banned from competing for their country at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics after a landmark decision yesterday that punished the sports powerhouse for a systematic doping system that operated "from the top down" and tainted the entire team.
In an unprecedented ruling loaded with geopolitical ramifications, the IAAF upheld its ban on Russia's track and field federation, saying the country had made some progress in cleaning up but failed to meet the requirements for reinstatement and would be barred from sending its athletes to the Rio Games.
"Russian athletes could not credibly return to international competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors and the public," IAAF President Sebastian Coe said.
President Vladimir Putin condemned the decision as "unfair," telling a meeting of leaders of major international news agencies in St Petersburg that athletes who compete without doping "shouldn't suffer".
Russia does not accept "collective punishment" for all athletes, he said, comparing the ban for the entire team to a prison sentence that "an entire family" could get if one of its relatives has committed a crime.
"I hope we will find some solution here, but it does not mean that we will get offended and stop battling doping. On the contrary, we will intensify our fight on doping," Putin added.
Russia's Sports Ministry also said the Rio Games would be "diminished" by the absence of its athletes, and the Russian track federation said it was considering an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport - the sports world's highest court.
The IAAF, track's world governing body, left open a "tiny crack" that would allow any individual Russian athletes who have been untainted by doping and who have been subjected to effective testing outside Russia to apply to compete in the Games.
However, the IAAF said those athletes would be few and would be eligible to compete only as "individuals" - and not under the Russian flag.
The IAAF said it was necessary to ban the entire track and field team because there was no way to verify which athletes could be considered clean.
The ruling came four days before a sports summit called by the IOC to address "the difficult decision between collective responsibility and individual justice".
There has been speculation the IOC could overrule the IAAF or impose a compromise that would allow "clean" Russian athletes to compete. However, Coe made clear that the IAAF runs the sport and determines which athletes are eligible, not the IOC.
"I don't have a message for the IOC," said Coe, who will attend Tuesday's meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. "Eligibility is a matter for the IAAF."