Russian track and field athletes banned from Rio Games


June 18, 2016
IAAF President Sebastian Coe (left) and Rune Andersen Chair of IAAF Inspection Team attend a news conference after a meeting of the IAAF Council at the Grand Hotel in Vienna, Austria yesterday.


In an unprecedented move, Russia's track and field athletes have been banned from competing for their country at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics because the country has failed to do enough to clean up a deep-rooted doping system that tainted athletes who may be clean.

The landmark decision yesterday left a narrow possibility for some Russian athletes to compete individually if they had been living outside Russia and had undergone testing in a recognised foreign anti-doping system.

"But don't run away with the idea that it's a large number," IAAF president Sebastian Coe said after announcing the 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 since the suspension was imposed in November but failed to meet the requirements for reinstatement and would be barred from sending its athletes to the Rio Games that begin in 50 days.

"Russian athletes could not credibly return to international competition without undermining the confidence of their competitors and the public," 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.

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