Russians lose track appeal; IOC to weigh total ban for Rio
Now that Russian track and field athletes have failed in their effort to have their Olympic ban overturned, it's up to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to decide whether to kick the entire Russian team out of the games that begin in Rio de Janeiro in 15 days.
In another blow to the image of the sports superpower, the highest court in sports yesterday dismissed an appeal by 68 Russian track athletes of the ban imposed by the IAAF following allegations of systematic and state-sponsored doping.
Sports officials in Moscow condemned the ruling as "political," and said some athletes might take their case to civil courts. Two-time Olympic pole vault champion Yelena Isinbayeva said the Rio Games will be devalued, with only "pseudo-gold medals" available.
In its ruling, the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) found that track and field's world governing body, the IAAF, had properly applied its own rules in keeping the Russians out of the games that begin August 5.
The three-man panel ruled that the Russian Olympic Committee "is not entitled to nominate Russian track and field athletes to compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games considering that they are not eligible to participate under the IAAF competition rules".
The Russians had argued against a collective ban, saying it punishes those athletes who have not been accused of wrongdoing.
The IAAF praised the decision, saying: "Today's judgement has created a level playing field for athletes."
IAAF President Sebastian Coe, who has declared that the ban is crucial to protecting the integrity of the competition, said it was "not a day for triumphant statements".
"I didn't come into this sport to stop athletes from competing," he said. "It is our federation's instinctive desire to include, not exclude."
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko suggested that Russia could take the case to a civil court. CAS general secretary Matthieu Reeb said the Russians have the right to appeal to the Swiss federal tribunal within 30 days but only on "procedural grounds," not the merits of the decision. Olympic bodies and athletes sign up to CAS jurisdiction, and its rulings have very rarely been overturned.
Reeb said the ruling is not binding on the International Olympic Committee, which has the final say as the supreme organiser of the games. However, the IOC last month accepted the IAAF decision to maintain its ban on the Russian athletes.
"The door is open for the IOC to decide, to determine even on a case-by-case principle whether these athletes are eligible or not," Reeb told reporters outside the court headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
INCREASE PRESSURE ON IOC
While the ruling clears the way for other individual sports federations to apply similar bans on Russians, it also increases pressure on the IOC to take the unprecedented step of excluding the whole Russian team. The IOC has never banned an entire country from the games for doping, and the last time Russia missed the Olympics was in 1984, when the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Games.
The World Anti-Doping Agency, along with many national anti-doping bodies and athletes groups, have called on the IOC to impose a total ban on Russia following fresh allegations of state-orchestrated cheating across dozens of Olympic sports.
Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren, who was commissioned by WADA, issued a scathing report Monday that accused Russia's Sports Ministry of orchestrating a doping system that affected 28 summer and winter Olympic sports. Officers of Russia's intelligence service, the FSB, were also involved in the cheating, which included the swapping of doping samples at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, McLaren found.